ESSENDON veteran Cale Hooker's career will end this season after announcing his retirement.
He informed his teammates on Tuesday that he would be finishing his AFL career at the end of 2021, having played 219 games across 13 seasons with the club.
After joining the Bombers with pick No.54 at the 2007 NAB AFL Draft, Hooker developed into one of the leading key position players in the competition, claiming an All-Australian jumper and best and fairest in 2015.
The 32-year-old then emerged as a key forward option for the Bombers after booting 41 goals in 2017 before this year kicking 33 goals. He was dropped after round 19 and has not played since at the top level.
"I couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity the club has given me and I will leave the game at the end of the season knowing I left no stone unturned to give the club, my teammates and the fans everything I had," Hooker said.
"To have been part of something bigger than myself, something that is so important to so many people, has been such a privilege and an honour. Representing this jumper is something I will never take for granted.
"I love this football club and I just want to thank all my teammates, coaches, staff, volunteers and all the members and supporters who have been with me throughout this journey."
Hooker's re-signing ahead of the 2017 season, when he was part of the suspended group of Bombers, is renowned as a turning point in the club's fightback following the supplements scandal, with a number of teammates following his lead in recommitting to the club.
At the start of this season he was shifted forward to be a presence around goal after Michael Hurley, who was earmarked for the role, went down with his hip injury. Hooker’s retirement follows that of teammate Patrick Ambrose last week.
"Cale has given everything he can to the club since arriving at the end of 2007, and now it is our turn to say thank you," coach Ben Rutten said.
WHO'S CALLED IT QUITS 2021's retirements and delistings
"We'd like to congratulate Cale on his achievements throughout his career at Essendon. He has brought valuable experience and leadership particularly in recent years to this group, and he should be very proud of what he has accomplished in the red and black."