ST KILDA veteran Leigh Montagna has called time on his decorated 287-game career, saying he was content he had given the game everything he could.
Montagna had been weighing up his future since a season-ending hamstring injury in round 18 and made the call after his exit interview with coach Alan Richardson.
He said the time was right to step aside and let an emerging group of Saints take the reins after a brilliant 16-year career.
"I wanted to take my time and weigh up my options which I have done, (and) ultimately I have decided that the time is right to retire," Montagna said on Wednesday.
"If this club is to achieve what we are striving for then I feel that the time is right for me to step aside and provide more opportunity to our younger players and allow them to flourish.
"I feel incredibly lucky to have played for as long as I have, but I am ready for, and looking forward to, the next chapter of my life."
Montagna is expected to move into a media career after calling last Friday night's clash between Hawthorn and the Western Bulldogs for Triple M.
A two-time All Australian, he finished top three in the Saints' best and fairest five times and was a star midfielder in the club's Grand Final seasons of 2009 and 2010.
His consistency as a player is highlighted by nine top-four finishes in the Trevor Barker Award in the past 10 seasons.
The 33-year-old moved to half-back later in his career and continued to be a ball-magnet, averaging 25 possessions in 16 games this season before suffering a serious hamstring injury.
The popular veteran continued to train in the hope that St Kilda would qualify for finals, but the Saints fell out of contention, ending Montagna's career.
Hard-working, courageous and durable, Montagna played at least 20 games in 10 of his last 12 seasons, finishing seventh on the club's all-time games played list.
His leadership and ability to direct teammates late in his career was a valued asset for Richardson.
"Joey’s record speaks for itself … but what he added in terms of leadership and the ability to communicate with his teammates was what set him apart as a player," Richardson said.
"His understanding of the game was matched only by his skill at being able to provide the right message at the right time to teammates and coaches on and off the field.
"His impact on St Kilda over the past 16 years has been enormous, as has his role in the development of the current group.
"The standards he set for consistency will continue to drive our club forward for many years to come."