RICHMOND forward Jake King has announced his immediate retirement after succumbing to foot surgery that could prevent him playing the game at any level again.
King, who managed just two senior games this season because of a serious foot injury, told his teammates of his decision on Monday morning.
"I'm not here by choice. ‘Dimma’ has sacked me," he joked at the announcement on Monday afternoon, grinning at coach Damien Hardwick.
He was less jovial when breaking the news to his teammates after 107 games with the Tigers.
"We just can't get my foot right, so I'm booked in tomorrow to see the surgeon," he told Tigers players and staff.
"So that's it, there's a good chance I won't be able to play footy ever again."
King, who made his debut at 23 after being recruited as a rookie, said he could not kick a footy or change direction without pain.
He had tried everything to get back to full fitness.
"We've had probably five or six procedures since the season started, whether it was just injections, acupuncture, manipulations or other minor things we've done," he said at a press conference on Monday.
"To get up every morning and train and go to bed knowing that you're going to have to fight it the next day was pretty disappointing.
"Not being able to play footy with the boys or maybe ever again, it's going to hurt a bit."
King has made headlines through his career because of his association with former bikie boss Toby Mitchell.
The 30-year-old said he was misunderstood.
"Those who know me know what I'm about and I have their respect, from players, family, the fans … that's all you could want in life I reckon," he said.
"The headlines are the headlines … I've got friends, I've got family.
"I live life and that's all there is to it.
"I've got mates, I don't turn my back on mates. I support my friends and family and I'll go on to do that."
Hardwick said the Tigers would miss King, adding his bad boy reputation outside the club was a myth.
"We realise how important a person he is. He's a great player but more importantly he's an outstanding individual," the coach said.
"Players play taller knowing that he's around.
"When we were playing our best footy, Jake was certainly a part of that.
"We're going to miss the little fella."