FREMANTLE favourite Stephen Hill has retired after a long battle with soft-tissue injuries that have forced an end to his 218-game career.
The 31-year-old told teammates of his decision on Tuesday morning, two weeks after suffering his latest hamstring injury when returning through the WAFL with Peel Thunder.
An important member of the 2013 Grand Final team and an electrifying wingman in his prime, Hill played only 15 games in his final three seasons and did not take to an AFL ground in 2021.
He told teammates on Tuesday morning that he knew it was the right time after 13 seasons in the AFL having been drafted by the Dockers with pick No.3 in the 2008 NAB AFL Draft.
"It’s been an amazing journey," Hill said.
"I’ve met some incredible people along the way and it’s definitely hard to say goodbye, but I know it’s the right time.
"In the last couple years, my body hasn’t held up and it’s been difficult physically and mentally, it’s been a challenge.
"I’m just so grateful to have been able to play for 13 years with 200-plus games. I’m super proud and extremely grateful."
Fremantle said fans would have the opportunity to thank Hill for his contribution to the club at this weekend's Western Derby.
An elite kick and hard worker, the graceful midfielder will be remembered for his magnificent running goal in 2013 against Geelong that put the Dockers into their first home preliminary final.
He had 21 disposals in the club's only Grand Final appearance in 2013.
Hill started his career with Fremantle under coach Mark Harvey as a member of the 2008 NAB AFL Draft class that formed the nucleus of the club's most successful era.
He raced to 200 games in his 10th season, finishing top three in the Dockers' best and fairest on three occasions in that period and earning a nomination for the Therabody AFL All-Australian squad in 2015.
The Fremantle life member moved into a half-back role later in his career, where his ball-use was set to be a major asset but injuries prevented him from flourishing in the role.
Football manager Peter Bell paid tribute to Hill and said he would go down as one of the club's greatest players.