St Kilda’s Norm Smith Medallist Lenny Hayes said on Tuesday the 2014 AFL season would signal the end of his playing career.
“I just want to announce at the end of this season I’ll be retiring,” the much-loved midfielder told a packed media conference at the club’s Seaford headquarters.
Hayes, 34, says he hopes to play all six remaining games for the last-placed Saints in 2014, giving him a career tally of 297.
Hayes has played 14 matches in 2014 and leads the club this season in possessions per game, averaging 24.9.
Skipper Nick Riewoldt says Hayes is probably leading the club’s best-player award.
The three-time club champion and triple All-Australian from the Pennant Hills club in NSW has won admiration from fans across the league for his sportsmanship and courage.
St Kilda are in a rebuilding phase under first-year coach Alan Richardson and sit on the bottom of the ladder with a 3-13 win-loss record.
AFL chief Gillon McLachlan described the classy midfielder as a great of the modern game.
“He’s played in three grand finals and been an extraordinary player,” McLachlan told reporters on Tuesday.
“He is universally loved by supporters of all 18 clubs and there are very few players who do that.
“The integrity he radiates, the way he’s gone about his football means he’s revered by all football supporters.
“It will be a great loss.”