GOLD Coast midfielder Connor Blakely has announced his retirement after 78 AFL games.
Blakely will play his final game on an AFL list on Sunday when the Suns attempt to win the first trophy in club history in the VFL Grand Final against Werribee at Ikon Park.
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The 27-year-old played eight of his nine seasons at Fremantle before being picked up by Gold Coast in last year's AFL Rookie Draft.
Stuck behind Touk Miller, Matt Rowell, Noah Anderson and David Swallow in the midfield, Blakely did not add to his senior games tally.
The midfielder said he was grateful for his experiences in the AFL system and the time was right to turn his focus to the next stage of his life.
"I've had so many ups and downs and challenges along the way throughout my career but I’m very appreciative of the opportunities and experiences that I’ve had," he said.
"I'm at a point of time in my life where I'm ready to let go of football but would love to finish off on a massive high by winning a VFL flag with my teammates after all the work we’ve put in this year."
The West Australian was originally drafted by the Dockers with pick No.34 in the 2014 AFL Draft and following one game in his debut season, quickly became a regular.
Playing alongside Brownlow medallist Nat Fyfe, future Brownlow medallist Lachie Neale, along with games record holder David Mundy and giant ruckman Aaron Sandilands, Blakely developed a reputation as a hard-nosed midfielder that could lock down an opposition star.
He also spent time in defence as a creative half-back under Ross Lyon before falling out of favour under Justin Longmuir.
Gold Coast footy performance manager Wayne Campbell thanked Blakely for his commitment to the club.
"Despite not getting the opportunity he would have desired at AFL level, Connor has provided invaluable experience to our group at VFL level which will see us play in the Grand Final this weekend," Campbell said.
"We look forward to hopefully sending Connor off as a VFL premiership player in his final match this weekend."