Geelong champion Jimmy Bartel has announced his retirement.
Despite triggering clauses in his current contract to play on in 2017, Bartel has decided against playing on for a 16th season.
He finishes his career as one of the club’s all-time greats with 305 games, three premierships, a Brownlow Medal, a Norm Smith Medal and two All-Australian guernseys to his name.
Bartel is ranked third at Geelong for most games played behind only Corey Enright (332) and Ian Nankervis (325).
"I wanted to take my time once the season finished before I made this decision,” Bartel said.
“I am forever grateful to have been drafted by the Cats and I hope in some way to have repaid the faith that was shown in me all those years ago.
“While I feel I still have more to give, I understand the bigger picture and respect the direction the club wants to move in. So therefore I have decided the time is now right to retire from the game.
"Over the past 15 years I have played out every dream I ever had and I leave the game satisfied that I have given everything I had in every game. To have played with my home town club and to have shared in the success we have had has been an incredible experience.
"I was very fortunate to have played with some amazing players, but even more importantly better men, which always made the game fun. I always looked forward to coming into the club and will miss that. However, I am excited to weigh up my options and to explore the next step.”
Geelong coach Chris Scott paid tribute to Bartel.
“Jimmy is the embodiment of what a footballer should be,” Scott said.
“He was fearless, could play multiple roles for the good of the team and was adaptable in a changing game. Jimmy will rightly go down as an icon of the Geelong Football Club, and he has left a lasting mark on all those that he has played with over the past 15 seasons.
“Jimmy was always prepared and as history has shown, he was at his best in the biggest moments and the biggest games.”
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