COLLINGWOOD champion Dane Swan has told teammates and fans his time as an AFL player is over.
He also had a message for the media: "Leave me alone."
In an emotional and humorous tribute to Swan, coach Nathan Buckley and past coach Mick Malthouse sat side by side with president Eddie McGuire and Swan's father, Billy.
Buckley said he was hopeful Swan would go around again but there was no guarantee his injured foot could stand up to the rigours of another year of AFL football.
Swan said in his heart he wanted to go on but he knew in his head he couldn't and said he came to his decision "two or three weeks ago".
"I just knew it was time," Swan said.
"I spoke to 'Bucks' a couple of times and he said ‘deep down when you make a decision you'll know’, and it was right in my gut that I needed to go.
"I didn't want to be here in March and not be able to get a kick.
"I'd rather die a hero than live long enough to die the villain."
Swan's foot injury was serious and he revealed he is yet to run outside on grass as he continues his rehabilitation.
He will get the pins, used to hold his foot together after surgery, removed before he goes away to Europe in October.
"The surgeon said it's (the foot) never going to be the same again. I haven't kicked a footy on it yet, I don't know if that's mental but it feels like if I kicked a footy my foot would smash into 1000 pieces."
"The surgeon assures me that won't happen, but it's a mental block I've got to get over."
Champion.— Jude Bolton (@Jude_Bolton) August 23, 2016
Superb footy resumè.
Best @swandane quote - I'll prob retire at 30 coz I don't want footy to get in the way of my social life.
He thanked family and friends and said footy was a "selfish game" and now it was time to give back to the people who "matter the most".
Magpies president Eddie McGuire said Swan belonged among the greats of the club.
"One of the greatest players in the history of the Collingwood Football Club," McGuire said.
Sad to see you go @swandane but congratulations on a ripping career and I'm glad I got the chance to play beside you... For 1 year at least— Jack Crisp (@jmancrisp) August 23, 2016
"He’s the player of his generation."
The star Magpie's career is littered with individual accolades, headed by the 2011 Brownlow Medal, his three Copeland Trophies (2008, 2009, 2010) and five All Australian selections (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013).
The saying "there will never be another player like him" was made for Dane. True to himself and his teammates. Big game performer. Congrats— Nathan Buckley (@ncb_cfc) August 23, 2016
"Playing football for Collingwood was fun. As some of you may have gathered over the years it is a powerful motivation of mine," Swan said in an earlier statement.
"In a way, I will never leave Collingwood because I know Collingwood will never leave me.
"I wore our black and white stripes with pride, always feeling that you were equally proud to see me waddle out in Number 36. We were good together."
Swan was an extremely popular figure and a key part of Collingwood's breakthrough 2010 premiership victory.
Swan's career was cut short after he broke three bones in his foot in the opening game of the season against the Sydney Swans.
The Magpies had planned to play him up forward for the majority of the 2016 season, with bursts in the midfield.
"We were looking forward to seeing him as a forward," Buckley said.
"I reckon he would've done some real damage to the opposition.
"The injury was about the only thing that was going to stop him."
That's a wrap. To everyone that supported me through the ups and downs just know it meant more to me than you probably know. I always felt loved and appreciated from all football fans and I'm very grateful. I'm sad to finish up but can't wait for the next part of my life to start to invest more time into my friends and family who have invested 15 years of there life into mine. ❤️❤️
Dane Swan, Eddie McGuire, Mick Malthouse, Nathan Buckley, and Billy Swan. Picture: AFL Photos