AN INNOCUOUS bump at training last week told West Coast veteran Beau Waters that he was 'deluded' in thinking he could still play AFL football.
The collision further damaged the shoulder that has troubled him for the past 18 months of an injury-ravaged career, leading the 28-year-old to call it quits.
Waters confirmed his decision to retire to coach Adam Simpson on Wednesday night and informed his teammates on Thursday morning before formally announcing it to the media at Domain Stadium.
The veteran defender said he came to the conclusion without any emotion.
"I think the emotions were just clear cut that it's time to move on and move away from the industry," Waters said.
"I woke up knowing I wasn't going to be able to contribute to the team. I always prided myself on having pretty good self-awareness.
"And as soon as I knew that my impact on field was going to be limited, and my value to the team is also limited - it was quite a matter of fact to be honest."
The 28-year-old has had a career plagued by injuries, managing just 120 games since being picked at No.11 in the 2003 NAB AFL Draft.
Waters has not played since round 15, 2013. He had multiple shoulder surgeries later that year and continually suffered setbacks throughout the 2014 season.
He appeared on track to return to football in the 2015 pre-season but he suffered a knock at training last week that signaled the end.
"Monday last week, I just went to grab a ball and got hit in a certain direction that jeopardised the integrity of the shoulder," Waters said.
"From them on, it got progressively worse to the point where I was struggling to get through skills sessions.
"After being so bullish during the pre-season, I was probably a little bit deluded by the fact I hadn't received any contact over that period.
"I was wrapped in cotton wool. The rest of my body feels great."
Simpson told AFL.com.au on Wednesday that the veteran had handled himself magnificently throughout all of his setbacks.
"He must fight some demons on his own every now and then, but he doesn't show it in front of the group or me," Simpson said. "He's a no-fuss type of bloke and that's the way he's handled it.
"His leadership and how he handles himself has been invaluable."
Waters played in the 2006 premiership with West Coast. He was the youngest player on the ground at just 20 years of age.
Only Sam Butler and Chris Judd remain as active players from that premiership side.
Waters said the premiership was the highlight of his career, but he mentioned it with a tinge of regret.
"I was fortunate enough to be the youngest man on the field at the time and the emotions were quite raw," Waters said.
"But there was also a sense of arrogance that we were going to do again, and do it again, and do it again. And we didn't.
"So I say to any current day player in our side or other sides, 'Grab your opportunity' because you're a long time retired and you don't want any regrets."
Waters was named All Australian in 2012 and finished third in the 2010 club best-and-fairest.
The South Australian also served as the club's vice-captain under Darren Glass before relinquishing the role to focus on his rehabilitation.
Waters was widely tipped to succeed Glass as captain before injury struck, but he said he had no regrets about missing out on that honour.
"I'm not really a rear-view mirror sort of guy," Waters said.
"I've always sort of looked ahead and that opportunity didn't present itself and I've always said that a title doesn't define leadership.
"So I haven't changed the way I lead, because I wasn't the captain, or I didn't lead because I wanted to be the captain. I was very much myself."
Waters said he would take a break from football in the short-term and probably wouldn't take up coaching in the future.
He didn't rule out returning to football in some capacity.
He has an MBA and said he would explore his options.
"I downloaded Seek last night so I'm having a look what's around," Waters said.
Tough as nails Beau Waters. Such a shame to see another career cut short due to the rigours of the game. @AFLPlayers— Jude Bolton (@Jude_Bolton) February 19, 2015
Beau Waters is probably the unluckiest footballer in my time. Great bloke and a tough leader. Good luck #deservedbetter— Mark Ricciuto (@markricciuto) February 18, 2015
Congratulations Beau Waters. Most courageous player I've ever seen on a footy field #wellplayed— Lachlan Keeffe (@LKeeffe_23) February 19, 2015
Lots of respect for one of the hardest blokes to play the game. Unfortunate to see injuries ruin Beau's career, good luck with next chapter!— Mitch Robinson (@MitchRobinson05) February 19, 2015