COLLINGWOOD veteran and premiership player Ben Johnson has told teammates he will retire after 235 games with the club.
The Magpie has been battling a calf injury for the past month and has not played a senior game since round three against the Hawks.
Johnson, 32, began his career in 2000 after being selection No.62 in the 1999 AFL National Draft.
A popular figure with fans and inside the club, he played for the club he grew up supporting.
Johnson made his debut in round 1, 2000, coinciding with Mick Malthouse's first game as the Magpies' coach. He wore No.31 and played alongside his hero Gavin Brown.
Brown, an admirer of Johnson, offered him the chance to wear his number 26 after he retired at the end of the season. Johnson accepted the honour and wore it with great pride.
A good performer in both the 2002 and 2003 Grand Finals, Johnson was equal runner-up in the club best and fairest in both 2004 and 2006 as he made his name as an attacking, courageous half-back flanker.
He then overcame a broken leg in 2009 to play a key role in the club's 2010 premiership team.
"I've had a wonderful time. I loved the club before I got here and I am as passionate about Collingwood today as I was then," Johnson said. "It's been a great ride. We enjoyed some great times, played some great footy and I've met some amazing people, including some of my best mates.
"I just didn't have anything left, really. It was time."
Few Collingwood supporters will forget his herculean efforts late in the 2010 draw when he almost singlehandedly held up several St Kilda attacking forays despite his exhaustion.
He was also famous for a match-winning tackle of Peter Burgoyne in a final deep in defence against Port Adelaide in 2002.
President Eddie McGuire said Johnson has been one of the club's greatest servants.
"He was passionate, loyal, tough and selfless," McGuire said.
"[Johnson] can look forward now to having a beer for the rest of his life in the Collingwood past players' bar. It certainly won't be his first."
He played just senior eight games under Nathan Buckley, with injury cutting his career short but Buckley, a former teammate, hailed Johnson’s long contribution to the Magpies.
"Ben has represented the club with distinction, but I think more importantly with great passion," Buckley said.
"He wore his heart on sleeve and bled black and white for the best part of 14 years. I think it’s fair to say that he was a great teammate, a great person to have on your side in the trenches."