Geelong champion Jimmy Bartel has retired despite feeling like he had “more to give” in his glittering career.
The 32-year-old was hopeful of playing on in 2017 with the Cats after a season in which he played 22 matches and averaged 21 disposals a game.
But he said understanding of “the bigger picture” played a part in what was described by Geelong as a mutual decision.
The Brownlow Medallist played 305 games for Geelong and was a key member of the club’s premiership-winning sides in 2007, 2009 and 2011.
“While I feel I still have more to give, I understand the bigger picture and respect the direction the club wants to move in,” Bartel told Geelong’s official website.
“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.”
Bartel also paid tribute to the club’s supporters and said he is sure Geelong will remain a powerhouse of the competition.
“Some of my greatest memories will be of being on the outer wing and hearing you [supporters] chant my name,” he added.
“Sincerely, thank you. You made me feel at home for 15 years.
“I’m sure the club will continue to have success and look forward to bringing my family to Kardinia Park and seeing the many young players fulfil their potential in the coming years.”
Bartel never won Geelong’s best-and-fairest award but was a two-time All-Australian and won the Norm Smith Medal in 2011.
He kicked 202 goals for the Cats.
An iconic Geelong figure
Geelong coach Chris Scott said Bartel will be remembered as an icon of the football club.
“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.”
Bartel played the final year of his career with a lengthy beard to raise funds and awareness for domestic violence through the ‘Face Up To DV’ campaign.
The footballer and his family were victims of domestic violence.