Melbourne defender Heritier Lumumba has retired from the AFL after struggling with repeated concussions.
The 2010 All-Australian had been widely expected to hang up his boots but became embroiled in a dispute with the Demons over their handling of his condition.
The two parties have since reached a settlement, allowing the Demons to release Lumumba from his contract which was due to expire at the end of 2017.
Lumumba managed just five games this year, suffering concussion in round six, before another knock to the head several weeks later in the VFL.
The 30-year-old had claimed Melbourne stopped him playing this season when he felt he had recovered from his concussion problems, meaning he could not use a trigger clause in his contract for a fourth year.
The dispute boiled over after the season, forcing the Demons to deny that Lumumba had threatened legal action against the club.
But despite being cleared of ongoing symptoms, it’s understood doctors have told Lumumba the risks associated with him taking another hit to the head were too high for him to continue playing.
“At the advice of several medical specialists, I am retiring from football,” Lumumba said in a club statement on Wednesday.
“My love of this game has inspired me to work hard and give my best efforts to my team.
“As I reflect on my career, I am grateful for the support I’ve received and how that support has enabled me to grow as an athlete and as a man. I look forward to expanding other areas of my career as I create new endeavours.”
Melbourne football boss Josh Mahoney said the Demons remained confident they had managed Lumumba’s condition appropriately.
“To receive medical advice that he should no longer play the game he loves has been really challenging for Heritier,” Mahoney said.
“Based on this advice, we have agreed to release Heritier from his 2017 contract and are supportive of his decision to retire from the game.
“We thank Heritier for everything he has given to the Melbourne football club.”
One of the AFL’s most-enigmatic characters, Lumumba was a premiership player with Collingwood in 2010.
He played 223 senior games – 199 for the Magpies and 24 at Melbourne.