Western Bulldogs veteran Liam Picken has announced his retirement amid ongoing battles with concussion.
The 32-year-old premiership player was knocked out in a sickening collision with a teammate in a pre-season match 12 months ago.
However persistent concussion symptoms mean he’s never been able to get back on the field.
Picken, who made his AFL debut in 2009 and has played 198 games, told his teammates on Monday he would retire effective immediately.
It was his second significant head knock in less than a year, after he was knocked out following a collision with Fremantle’s Tom Sheridan in 2017.
Picken’s wife later share a photo of their son in tears after seeing his dad being stretchered from the field.
“This pic (sic) is one of a thousand reasons why this is more than a game to us,” she wrote.
“Knocks to the head will always be my most hated part of this sport.”
This pic is one of a thousand reasons why this is more than a game to us. Knocks to the head will always be my most hated part of this sport 😔 Just a reminder to never take joy in the hurt/injury of opposition players (or anyone for that matter.) Not sure if Liam will run back out tonight but it was upsetting to witness what we just did. Thanks for the kind messages. Liam is in good hands and looking okay now but gosh I hate being on the other side of the country xx PS- Malachy asked me to take this for you @liampicken. He gave me no explanation why and I have no idea considering he looks so heartbroken?! 😘
A post shared by ANNIE NOLAN (@uncannyannieblog) on Apr 8, 2017 at 3:56am PDT
With strong AFL bloodlines with his dad Billy a Collingwood star and his brother Marcus and cousin Jonathon also AFL players, Picken became a Bulldogs fan favourite with his performance during the 2016 finals series.
A talented midfielder/forward, he kicked eight goals in four games, including three in the grand final win over Sydney.
"PICKEN FROM BEHIND!" 🙌
— AFL (@AFL) April 1, 2019
Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said the father of three typified the core values of the club.
“We have always had a family-first mentality at the Bulldogs, and that should always be the overriding consideration when it comes to a player’s health and any impact that has on playing football,” Beveridge said.
“Liam can be immensely proud of his achievements.
“He is loved and admired within the club, and universally respected by the whole football public, which is a true indication of the impression he has made on the game.”
Bulldogs Director of Football Chris Grant said the club would continue to support Picken into his retirement.
“Over the last 12 months our focus has been to support Liam by providing him with the best medical care and ensuring his health is our number one priority,” Grant said.
“We will continue to provide off-field assistance for Liam to ensure he has the necessary support to return to full health, including his transition into the next chapter of his working career.”
The AFL world reacted with sadness at the news of his retirement.
— Lachlan Steele (@SteeleLachy) April 1, 2019
So sad. I love Liam. But his health is the most important thing. He achieved the highest in AFL football. Thank you Liam.
— Liz Duggan (@eaduggan) April 1, 2019
— Jaiden Collis (@JaidenCollis) April 1, 2019
So sad… The bloke was one of the best and one of my favourites to watch. Really going to miss him play. Incredible. Best of luck go him.
— Joshua Ireland (@5thQuarterAFL) April 1, 2019
Congrats Liam Picken on your career, you're a courageous and tough bugger! Good luck with life after footy.
— Mitch Robinson (@MitchRobinson05) April 1, 2019