Hawthorn premiership midfielder Chance Bateman has announced his retirement at the end of this season.
The 31-year-old has struggled with injury over the past two seasons and has been restricted to just three appearances this year as the Hawks look to add to their 2008 premiership.
Bateman said he had been considering retiring for some time, but said actually making the announcement to his team-mates on Thursday night was tough.
"I've been talking to my partner Jess about it and she has been asking if I was going to be all right," Bateman said.
"I said I'd be fine but once I was in front of the boys and started to talk ... it was tough and I choked up with a few tears."
Having battled calf and ankle issues as he played 17 games in 2011, Bateman was forced to have AC joint surgery this season, severely restricting his appearances.
But after a 13-year career and 177 games, Bateman leaves the field as one of Hawthorn's most decorated players and the first indigenous player to play a senior game for the club in 2000.
He also became the first indigenous player to reach 100 games for the Hawks and be awarded life membership of the club.
"Chance Bateman will always have a special spot at our footy club because he's been a trailblazer for indigenous players at Hawthorn," coach Alastair Clarkson said on the club's official website.
"Not only has he forged a path for so many at our footy club, but he's also shown so many others the way.
"'Changa' had a huge influence on 'Junior' (Cyril Rioli) in Cyril's first 12 months at the club, and has also played a significant role in Buddy's (Lance Franklin) development, and the development of so many others."Chance's career has been built on hard work, professionalism and commitment and he has set a tremendous example for our younger players."
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