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EMOTIONS are running high among Melbourne supporters after club favourite Jack Watts was traded to Port Adelaide but the forward insists there are 'no hard feelings' with the Demons.
Melbourne fans voiced their outrage at Watts being moved on despite having been contracted until the end of 2019, with a swap for No.31 in this year's NAB AFL Draft finalised on Tuesday.
Watts spoke to reporters at Melbourne airport on Wednesday morning and said despite a rocky ending, he left the Dees on good terms.
"You spend nine years of your life somewhere, it's like a family. It didn't finish the way I would've liked but no hard feelings towards the club," Watts said.
"I love the players, I love the supporters and I can't be more thankful for what they've given me over the last nine years."
Watts has been in the spotlight since he was drafted with the first overall selection in 2008, often being portrayed as the shining light for a side that spent plenty of time in the doldrums.
At 26, he has yet to reach the potential recruiters thought he could fulfil, but his career-best 2016 saw him finish fifth in the Melbourne best and fairest.
However, his start and end to 2017 were underwhelming, not having been selected in Melbourne's opening two pre-season games and then being dropped late in the year as the Dees unsuccessfully pushed for their first finals berth since 2006.
Watts admitted to a range of emotions when first told the club wanted him elsewhere.
"Initially it was a big shock and a bit disappointing and frustrating. You go through a range of emotions in those first couple of days but I think once I got my head around it, I've been really positive about the whole experience," he said.
"I think (there are) only good things to come really in the next few years."
He paid tribute to Melbourne in an emotional Instagram post and says he intends to stay in touch with Demons coach Simon Goodwin.
Well that was one helluva ride. I will miss my boys, I'll miss my club, and I'll miss looking up into that members stand and admiring the support I have been lucky enough to receive over 9 incredible years. I've always tried to be kind and inclusive to anyone I come across in life and seeing the heartfelt messages from friends, family and especially the MFC faithful over the last few weeks has simply been overwhelming. It's goodbye for now and thank you
"We had a good chat at the best and fairest and I think I've said all along I get on really well with Goody," Watts said.
"Obviously I hasn't quite worked out in the football sense, but I'm sure we'll stay in touch and after my career's finished, we'll sit down and have a few beers and get along really well."
Watts played 153 games for the Demons and will have a soft spot for them while watching from afar.
"The support that I've had has been incredible, from the Melbourne supporters," Watts said.
"I've been the most supported player ever to play the game, just because of my circumstances.
"Reading the comments and the messages I've been getting, it's been extremely humbling, but at the same time, Melbourne are on the right track and hopefully the supporters can see past this and jump back on board and support the club through what hopefully is a really successful time for them."
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