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Longmire fights back tears as Swans great calls it quits

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THE EMOTION in John Longmire's voice told you just how significant Jarrad McVeigh's impact has been on the Sydney Football Club.

McVeigh, 34, announced on Thursday that the 2019 season, his 17th at the highest level, would be his last. 

The boy from the central coast of New South Wales sat in a room surrounded by his wife Clementine and daughters Lolita and Florence, his parents, teammates, Swans staff and media to make it official, with the treasured 2012 premiership cup in arm's length. 

Jarrad McVeigh and John Longmire embrace after Thursday's announcement. Picture: Getty Images 

Longmire fought back tears as he lauded McVeigh's contribution to the game, the AFL, and more importantly the Swans, and thanked him for his friendship and support over the years. 

"He's been an absolutely incredible player and leader and his legacy at this footy club is extremely significant," Longmire said. 

 

McVeigh said he's been humbled by the messages he's received over the past 24 hours from those closest to him. 

"To know that you've got their respect and you've left a mark (on the footy club) sits pretty well with me," he said. 

I didn't want to pass through this club and not give everything I could.

"I feel like I've achieved a lot and left a pretty good legacy for our future players, like the players before me did as well. 

"I took that baton from them and hopefully I'll hand it over to the next group to take the club forward."

The dual club champion and 2013 All Australian has played just five games this season due to quad, hamstring and calf injuries. 

The moment: Jarrad McVeigh goes down with a quad injury against the Blues. Picture: AFL Photos

He hasn't played at senior level since round 12 and most recently strained his calf in the final quarter of his comeback match in the NEAFL on July 13.

McVeigh said he'd come into the year with thoughts of playing on next season if his body and form warranted another contract, but his latest setback made the decision for him. 

"After the calf at Blacktown, I knew I was in trouble," he said. 

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Not surprisingly, McVeigh's most treasured games of his career were his 2004 debut against Brisbane at the Gabba, and the Swans' thrilling 2012 flag win over the Hawks.

McVeigh's 21 possessions, nine tackles and two important goals made him one of Sydney's best on that famous day.

"Grand Final week is the most amazing sporting experience we can have, and to be able to walk around the MCG with the medal around my neck knowing we'd finally done it, it's the best feeling in footy," he said.

McVeigh was the Swans' co-captain in the victorious 2012 Grand Final. Picture: AFL Photos

McVeigh's 324 matches placed him third on the Swans' all-time games played list behind good friends and former teammates Adam Goodes (372) and Jude Bolton (325).

Another former teammate Michael O'Loughlin sits fourth (303) as Sydney's other 300-game player.

Longmire said he sent a text message to Goodes, Bolton and O'Loughlin on Wednesday once McVeigh had made his call. 

That led to an impromptu get together as the club's longest serving coach, and four longest-serving players, toasted a magnificent career over beers in McVeigh's home suburb of Bondi. 

"I've got so much respect and admiration for those guys, so it was fantastic," McVeigh said.

"We had plenty of laughs and reminisced about finals we've played in and footy trips we've been on.

"It was just like being down in the changerooms again, there's nothing better." 

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McVeigh still has his heart set on pulling on the Bloods guernsey again this season, with the club's round 23 clash against St Kilda at the SCG in his sights as a farewell match. 

From November this year he'll be part of Longmire's coaching staff. 

"I love footy, I love training and I love playing, and I want to win with these boys again," he said.

Jarrad McVeigh by the numbers

Born: April 7, 1985
Draft history: Pick 5, 2002 AFL Draft
Recruited from: NSW/ACT RAMS/Pennant Hills Demons
AFL Debut: Round 1, 2004 v Brisbane Lions
Player No. 1325 to appear for Sydney Swans/South Melbourne
First goal: Round 1, 2004 v Brisbane Lions
Swans Most Improved (2006)
Bob Skilton Medal (2008, 2013)
International Rules side (2010, 2014)
Sydney Swans co-captain (2011-2016)
AFL Premiership (2012)
All-Australian (2013)
Swans Players' Player Award (2013)
Swans Best Player in Finals (2013)
Swans Best Clubman (2014)
Plays 300th game in Semi Final, 2017 v Geelong
AFL Games: 324 (202 wins, 4 draws, 118 losses)
28 finals games (7th of all-time, behind Michael Tuck with 39)
AFL Goals: 200