Carlton veteran Kade Simpson will retire at the end of the AFL season, bringing a close to a stellar 18-year career.
Simpson, 36, has played 341 games in navy blue - more than any other Carlton player bar Craig Bradley and Bruce Doull - since making his debut in 2003, in a remarkably durable career.
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"I never believed when I was drafted that I'd still be playing 18 years later," Simpson said.
"It's something that hopefully down the track I'll look back on and appreciate but right now I just want to thank everyone who has helped me, on and off the field, during my career."
"... It has been an honour to play for the Carlton Football Club.
"This place has been my home for such a long time and I've never taken for granted what it has meant to run out in that No.6 in front of what is the most passionate supporter base in the AFL."
Simpson won the John Nicholls Medal in 2013 and has finished in the top three of Carlton's best and fairest four times, while he was vice-captain from 2013-14 and 2016.
As courageous as they come.— Carlton FC (@CarltonFC) September 15, 2020
As passionate as they come.
As loyal as they come.#ThankYouSimmo
I’m getting a little emotional with these retirements!— Mitch Robinson (@MitchRobinson05) September 15, 2020
If you ever want to know what a true warrior looks like or someone that gives everything to the jumper, research Kade Simpson! @CarltonFC
I was in year 6 when Kade Simpson played his 1st game.— Sam McClure (@sam_mcclure) September 15, 2020
Sporting Life column ran a sneaky piece about him not having a touch in his first 3 games.
He's had 7198 since.
He's given more to CFC than anyone I can remember. Deserved to play in more than 6 finals. #BravoSimmo
Blues pay tribute to club great Simpson
Blues coach David Teague paid tribute to Simpson, who was consistently a stellar performer in some of Carlton's darker years and played a club-record 158 consecutive games between 2005 and 2012.
"Many have come and gone from the Carlton Football Club over the last 18 years but Simmo has been our one constant who has never failed to represent our guernsey with class," Teague said.
"You look at Simmo's build when he walked through the doors in 2002, nobody would have believed that guy would go on to play the third most games in the history of our football club.
"What we didn't know then was the size of Simmo's heart, his absolute, never-say-die commitment to get the job done for his teammates, his coaches and our members and supporters.
"He has given everything he possibly can to Carlton. This club simply could not have asked for any more from him and for that we will forever be grateful.
"When this season is over, Simmo will rightly take his place amongst the greatest players to ever wear the navy blue guernsey."