Carlton’s Andrew Walker has declared Sunday’s AFL clash with St Kilda his last.
The well-loved Blue will retire a one-club but multiple-position player after 13 seasons with Carlton.
Flanked by his two sons, Walker said on Tuesday he’d lost a battle with his body to play on until the end of his contract in 2017.
“It’s been an incredible 13 years,” he said.
“I’ve had a few downs with a few injuries which is probably why I’m sitting here today.
“Due to a few more injuries I just can’t do my job any more and I’m finding it really hard to get up every week to play AFL footy.”
Walker, who said he’d been playing partly injured for three years, informed his teammates of his decision on Monday night.
Earlier this year, Walker became the first indigenous Carlton player to reach 200 games.
He will finish with 202 under five different coaches – Denis Pagan, Brett Ratten, Mick Malthouse, John Barker and Brendon Bolton.
Walker, originally from the Victorian town of Echuca, produced the spectacular time and again throughout his career.
Two moments against St Kilda – the team he will finish his career against – showed his winning edge and his capacity to produce something special.
He kicked a goal with a minute left on the clock in 2011 to earn Carlton a three-point win over the Saints.
Two years later, Walker kicked an all-time classic goal against the same team, gathering the ball on half-back, bouncing four times before firing home from outside 50.
Nominations for goal of the year and mark of the year came naturally to Walker, who will hope to produce a similar slice of magic in his farewell on Sunday.
The 30-year-old said he was leaving the club in a good place.
“Our game plan is really solid and the kids are learning really quickly,” he said.
“It’s made my job a lot easier, leaving knowing these kids are developing in the right way.”
Carlton football chief Andrew McKay said Walker set the bar high for the next generation of players.
“Andrew had a frustrating run of injuries across the course of his career but admirably, he always put the team’s needs first,” he said.
“He also drove high standards and had a very strong work ethic which set a great example to the club’s younger players during his time.”