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Three flags and out: Kelly, Cats part ways

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 28: James Kelly of the Cats in action during the 2015 AFL round 22 match between the Geelong Cats and the Collingwood Magpies at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Australia on August 28, 2015. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)
James Kelly's decorated career with the Cats has come to an end
Everyone I’ve played with has ... made me a better player than I could have been anywhere else
James Kelly

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GEELONG midfielder James Kelly will play his last game for the Cats against Adelaide at Simonds Stadium on Saturday.

The triple premiership champion will depart after 273 games, having been a key part of the club during its golden era.

He earned All Australian selection in 2011 and finished third in the club best and fairest in 2010.

Kelly told the club's website he was grateful to have been at such a great club for 14 years.

"I want to thank all the players that I’ve played with. It’s hard to individualise, but everyone I’ve played with has made me the player that I am, and made me a better player than I could have been anywhere else," Kelly said.

"And most of all, I thank the footy club for the opportunity to be able to do something that I love for a long period of time. (To) have success and meet people that I’ll know for the rest of my life and be friends with for the rest of my life."

Kelly was a silky-skilled midfielder, light on his feet and tough in the contest. He re-invented himself later in his career across half-back and became a tackling machine capable of putting great pressure on the opposition.

He was also renowned as a mentor for young players and someone who could bring levity to the change rooms.

Cats coach Chris Scott paid tribute to Kelly.

"'Kel' has always been able to play a variety of roles and put the team’s needs first," Scott said.

"He has been a leader within the club and one of the people that younger players could look to in the professional manner that Kel went about preparing and playing the game."

Kelly has not indicated whether he will seek an opportunity to continue his career at another club.

On Tuesday, Kelly's long-time teammate Mathew Stokes also departed the Cats after two premierships.

The 30-year-old will play his 189th and final game against Adelaide.  

AFL.com.au understands Stokes is likely to retire, although he has not ruled out playing on at another club.