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AFL 2017 Round 17 - Fremantle v West Coast

Matt Priddis has announced he will retire at the end of this season

BROWNLOW medallist Matt Priddis has announced his retirement, bringing down the curtain on one of the greatest careers in West Coast history.

Priddis, who won football's highest honour in 2014, will finish up at the end of the year, with the Eagles still in contention for finals.

The veteran midfielder was already contracted for next year, but has opted to call time early, and had been weighing the decision to hang up the boots for about 10 weeks. 

The honest 32-year-old came to the realisation this week it was time to make way for the Eagles' next generation.

With the entire playing group, coaching staff and club watching on, Priddis sat alongside senior coach Adam Simpson on Friday to announce he will be hanging up the boots.

"It's been a big couple of days, it's been pretty emotional," Priddis said.

"Once you actually say 'bang, this is what we're going to do', there's something in that that really hits home, and that's probably when I broke down on Tuesday.

"I had to leave early that day. It was pretty tough.

"This is my call. I know it's the right decision."

Priddis' future and the playing careers over several other veterans – including Sam Mitchell and Mark LeCras – have been the subject of increasing speculation with the Eagles battling to make the top eight.

His combination with fellow Brownlow medallist Mitchell, who is reportedly set to move into coaching at the end of this season, has been a hot topic amid concerns over West Coast's lack of midfield pace.

Mitchell was rested for last round's loss to Collingwood but will return for Sunday's clash with the Brisbane Lions, while Priddis will be missing due to a sore quad.

"I've loved playing alongside 'Mitch', he's brought so much to the footy club, he's a great leader, his skill level is unbelievable and I think there's a spot for both of us," Priddis said.

"That will be a week-to-week decision.

"I'm a bit sore this week, but I'll be putting my hand up for selection as soon as I get that right."

Priddis has also been played out of position across half-forward to accommodate expanded midfield roles for his younger teammates.

"There's a number of reasons (to retire) from list management, to my form, to my role going forward," he said.

"I put my own hand up and say I can't make enough of a contribution to the team in the forward line.

"Speed is probably something that is one of the most important things up there."

Priddis, who has played 235 games since his debut in 2006, has averaged 26 disposals and close to seven tackles a game for his career, and is the AFL’s all-time leading tackler (1587). 

But this season the stoppage specialist felt his "standards were probably dropping", although he is still averaging 24.3 disposals, 7.6 tackles and 4.5 clearances.

He will hang up the boots as one of the most revered and respected Eagles ever, and his tale of persistence is an inspiration to many aspiring footballers.

The Subiaco product was overlooked in three national drafts before finally earning a spot on West Coast's rookie list in 2006 after winning the Sandover Medal.

"It was a dream come true. I would've done anything to get on an AFL list anywhere," Priddis said.

"But to come to a club that had (Chris) Judd, (Daniel) Kerr, (Ben) Cousins that was going to be a pretty good footy apprenticeship.

"Even I was only going to be there for a year I was going to learn as much as I could and go as hard as I can.

"I do know that I've given it everything. I've gotten everything out of my body.

"I've achieved things that I didn't think I would ever be able to achieve.

"To play 12 years being the slowest player in the AFL, I'm pretty proud of that." 

Priddis has gone on to win a John Worsfold Medal as the club's best and fairest in 2013, has been runner-up on four other occasions and was All Australian in 2015 when the Eagles made a shock run to the Grand Final.

He believes he has played his best football under Simpson, who took the coaching reins from club legend Worsfold at the end of 2013, and the emotional coach declared Priddis had made the most of every ounce of his football ability.

"It's the epitome, isn't it? He'd be the number one (for that), I would have thought," Simpson said.

"We spoke (today) about the head, heart and gut, and he just lives and breathes all those three things from the footy club to how he carries himself with his family and his values and morals.

"He's an inspiration.

"We'll never get another one like this guy."


Matt Priddis with his Brownlow Medal in 2014. Picture: AFL Photos