THE MESSAGE was sent Wednesday afternoon. Tom Boyd wanted to talk to his manager Liam Pickering that night.

A few hours later and after that conversation, Boyd, 23, was retired from football.

The combination of a debilitating back injury and a mental health condition removing his once natural love of the game and rendering him unable to play the way he was born to.

SHOCK RETIREMENT Boyd calls it quits at just 23

Pickering didn't attempt to talk Boyd out of his decision.

"He said he'd been thinking about it for a while, the right decision is to retire from footy," Pickering told

"I didn’t try to talk him out of it. We are about supporting Tom, and from our perspective it is giving Tom all the support he wants and needs."

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After finishing his chat with Boyd, Pickering began the formalities of severing Boyd's ties to the Bulldogs by making contact with club officials, including president Peter Gordon.

The Bulldogs said there was "a friendly resolution of all contractual matters", where Boyd's package for 2019 was to be reduced, and monies owed in 2020 and 2021 to be "cancelled".

Boyd, the No.1 overall national draft pick in 2013, signed one of football's biggest deals at the end of 2014, when a $7 million, seven-year deal lured him to the Bulldogs and away from GWS.

BANG FOR YOUR BUCK The day Tom delivered on the big stage

They were heady, manic days. Ryan Griffen had walked out of the Bulldogs to join GWS, the Bulldogs sacked their coach Brendan McCartney, and then sought revenge and targeted Boyd at all costs.

Boyd was on first-contract money in his first year at the Bulldogs in 2015, meaning his wage was less than $150,000.

But he earned more than $1.7 million in 2016, and again more than $1.7 million in 2017. He was believed to be on $1 million-plus for 2018, and less this year.

COMMENT Was the Dogs' Tom Boyd mega-deal worth it?

In retiring, he is relinquishing at least $1.5 million of contracted money.

The AFL has confirmed that that money does not need to be accounted for in the Bulldogs' salary caps of 2020 and 2021, as Boyd was a traded player, not a restricted free agent.

It means the Bulldogs can aggressively approach opposition players in the next trade period.

"We've come to an arrangement with the Bulldogs, and we won't be commenting on any that," Pickering said.

Asked if Boyd would consider playing again, Pickering said:

"No idea, at this stage, I can tell you it is not even a consideration. He's retired. If he's 29, 30, no one is asking that. He's 23, so I understand why you do, but in his mind it is his studies and getting his health right.

"There's nothing worse than doing a job you don't like, the way you would like. Going to work and not being in a good space mentally and physically, there is nothing worse when you can’t perform to your very best.

"He'll be a happier man for the pressure being lifted off his shoulders."

Boyd played 52 matches with the Bulldogs, which on rough mathematics equates to $100,000 a game.

Massive money. Silly money. Yet money well spent.

There was more than enough ROI, return on investment, for his performance in the 2016 Grand Final against Sydney was legendary.

He booted three goals, including a long-bomb, match-sealer. He should have been awarded the Norm Smith Medal in a match which secured just the second premiership for the Bulldogs.

Said Pickering: "What are teams in it for? To win a flag. How much do you pay for a flag? Forget what he was paid, he contributed that day, and the week before it in getting there. Of course he's paid it back."

Twitter: @barrettdamian


October 21, 2013: Drafted to GWS with pick No.1 in the NAB AFL Draft.

April 20, 2014: Plays his first AFL game for Greater Western Sydney.

October 13, 2014: Officially requests a trade to the Western Bulldogs.

October 15, 2014: Traded to the Western Bulldogs for Ryan Griffen and pick No.6.

April 4, 2015: Plays his first AFL game for the Western Bulldogs.

June 30, 2016: Suspended indefinitely for "violent" altercation with teammate Zaine Cordy.

October 1, 2016: Kicks three goals to help the Western Bulldogs to a drought-breaking flag.

July 5, 2017: Takes indefinite leave of absence to receive treatment for depression.

July 22, 2018: Suffers back injury that prematurely ends his season, interrupts pre-season.

May 16, 2019: Announces retirement from AFL after 61 games and 50 goals.