Brownlow Medallist Adam Cooney has announced his retirement ahead of his 250th AFL match this Sunday.
The Essendon midfielder announced on Tuesday the 2016 season will be his last, fittingly confirming his future before the milestone match against his former club the Western Bulldogs.
Cooney claimed the 2008 Brownlow Medal while at the Bulldogs as well as earning All-Australian selection.
The top pick in the 2003 national draft, Cooney played 219 games for the Dogs before moving to Essendon before the 2015 season.
“It seems a fitting tribute to be able to play against the Dogs this week to celebrate not only my 250 game milestone but also celebrate the career I have enjoyed at both clubs,” Cooney said.
“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to also say thank you to the fans from both clubs who have showed me enormous support throughout my career.”
Flanked by family and friends, Cooney paid tribute to wife Haylea and his three children Ash, Jax and Evie for their support during his 13-season career.
Cooney’s watershed season in 2008 ultimately ended with a knee injury which blighted the rest of his career.
A cracked patella and cartilage damage in that year’s qualifying final meant he notched just 16 Brownlow votes over the next four seasons after picking up a winning tally of 24 votes in 2008.
His first season at the Bombers was also injury-marred but Cooney said proving his fitness and getting through the 2016 campaign unscathed had been a huge lift.
“To be able to play a full year without missing a game has been satisfying,” he said.
Bombers coach John Worsfold praised Cooney’s leadership during the club’s difficult 2016 campaign, in the absence of several senior players unavailable due to ASADA bans.
“In a year where we needed people to help guide our young list, Adam’s experience, leadership and team care has been really vital,” Worsfold said.
“He also brings a lighter mood to the group which has been particularly important at times this year.”
FROM A BULLDOG TO A BOMBER – Adam Cooney’s AFL career
Draft history: Pick No.1, 2003 National Draft
AFL Debut: Round 1, 2004 against West Coast at Etihad Stadium
Bombers Debut: Round 1, 2015 against Sydney at ANZ Stadium
AFL Games: 249
* Brownlow Medal: 2008
* All Australian: 2008