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McVeigh calls time on Dons' career

Sportal August 29, 2012, 12:49 pm
Mark McVeigh

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Essendon utility Mark McVeigh says he is comfortable with his decision to retire after a 232-game career at the club.

McVeigh, who was drafted at No.9 in the 1998 AFL Draft, called time on his playing days in front of his team-mates, coaches and the media at Windy Hill on Wednesday.

"It's been a tough decision but one that I am very comfortable with," McVeigh told reporters.

"(I am) very proud of the career I have had, especially being a one-club player. I love the club, it's been a place that I have grown up since I was 17 years old and to be 14 or 15 years down the track and not moving on and staying here has been a real pleasure.

"I have had the most amazing and exciting time of my life at this club. I have loved every minute of it."

McVeigh, who revealed that he was offered a one-year contract extension at Windy Hill, said he made the choice to walk away from the game after battling knee and hamstring injuries in the 2012 season, in which he played just three matches.

"I'm mentally very fresh," he said.

"My body probably gave me the signals this year that my time was up. I worked very hard in the off-season and the pre-season to get it (body) to a stage where I could compete and I felt great going into the season.

"I absolutely loved the training program, along with the players. My age unfortunately ... injuries compounded. It wasn't mental, I could keep going but it is just a body situation.

"It is not the ideal way (to retire). I'd love to play on Saturday with the boys. It wasn't to be. There was a young player (Brendan Lee) that got an opportunity because I went off the (senior) list and I was very happy for that to happen."

Essendon coach James Hird also played plenty of senior football alongside McVeigh and he reflected fondly on his time shared with the retiring player.

"Mark was a fantastic team-mate," Hird said.

"We had a lot of fun on and off the field as I suppose, young men growing up. The culture back in the late 90s and early 2000s around this club was a fantastic culture. Mark was a huge part of that. That was a great time.

"We played a lot of footy together and every game we played together, we warmed up and kicked the ball to each other. That was really special."

Essendon finish their 2012 season with a fixture against old rivals Collingwood at the MCG on Saturday night.

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