ESSENDON forward Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti has retired.
The electric small forward is at peace with his call having come to the decision this week. He is expected to attend the Bombers' Dreamtime at the 'G game against Richmond on Saturday night at the MCG.
The goalkicker has not played at AFL level this season and not since round 21 last year after taking personal leave from the club earlier this year.
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He returned to play in the VFL in recent weeks but has stepped away from the game after a brilliant 126-game career that saw him boot 153 goals in the red and black.
The matchwinner became a cult hero at Essendon and around the competition for his goalkicking talents across his career, having entered the AFL as a rookie selection and making his debut as a 22-year-old.
He started his career as a half-back in 2016 under coach John Worsfold before being flipped into attack the following season, when he kicked an equal career-high tally of 34 goals.
He was Essendon's leading goalkicker in 2020 and has had some brilliant heroics for the Bombers across his career, including his seven-goal haul against Brisbane in round four, 2019 and his game-winning snap against North Melbourne later that season in the dying seconds.
The entertaining Bomber's skills around goal, speed, chase-down tackles and brilliance with the ball made him a crucial player for Essendon and he was also durable, playing 126 consecutive games from his debut before last year exiting the side on the eve of the finals.
His absence has been felt for the Bombers this season, with the 29-year-old's talents impossible to replace for coach Ben Rutten.
The timing of the decision wasn’t related to the Bombers opening up a mid-season draft pick, with Nik Cox’s foot injury already set to allow that to happen.
Essendon confirmed AFL.com.au’s report on Friday morning, with McDonald-Tipungwuti saying he was proud of his career.
"The Bombers gave me the opportunity to fulfil my dream of playing AFL," McDonald-Tipungwuti said.
"I have loved my time at the club and I am so proud of what I have been able to achieve in my AFL career. I am also proud of my education, coming to Victoria was to pursue my education and that has been really important for me too.
"The club and my teammates have been extremely supportive throughout my whole career but I feel really happy to be moving on to the next chapter of my life now. I’m ready for life beyond football.
"I wish all the boys the best for their future, I’ll be watching on from afar."