Pavlich leaves AFL with no regrets

Matthew Pavlich’s trophy cabinet will never feature a premiership medallion, but the 34-year-old insists he will retire from AFL ranks feeling like one of the lucky ones.

Pavlich will play his 353rd and final match on Sunday when he lines up against the Western Bulldogs in front of his adoring fans at Domain Stadium.

The veteran forward needs just one more goal to reach the magical 700 mark.

But even if he fails to register that against the Bulldogs, he will be etched in history as the greatest Docker – a feat that might never be surpassed.

Pavlich’s six All-Australian and six best-and-fairest awards are testament to the on-field magic he brought to Fremantle.

But the one glaring omission from his CV is an AFL premiership.

Fremantle came close in 2013, only for their shoddy kicking to haunt them in a 15-point loss to Hawthorn in the grand final.

Nevertheless, Pavlich will end his career feeling fulfilled.

He said it was a privilege to be able to choose when to end his career, rather than be pushed out the door.

Just hours earlier, Pavlich had heard the news that North Melbourne quartet Brent Harvey, Drew Petrie, Michael Firrito and Nick Dal Santo wouldn’t be offered new contracts for 2017.

“I can walk away knowing there’s not one ounce of energy left towards football that I could give,” Pavlich said on Wednesday, flanked by family, teammates and club employees at Fremantle Oval.

“I am fulfilled – I am content. I walk away knowing I don’t have any regrets.

“I’ve been at this club for 17 years. I joked I walked in as a pimply-faced, chubby, 17-year-old and I walk out a grey-haired, chubby, 34-year-old.”

As much as he tried to win an AFL flag, Pavlich doesn’t feel empty by the lack of premiership success.

“It would have been nice to have won one. But it’s not going to define my time at Fremantle,” Pavlich said.

“I mentioned to the guys today, I don’t look back upon that, or look at the guys who played in that team with any remorse or disappointment.

“If that’s all that mattered to me, then the last 17 seasons and all of the energy and effort I put into this place in creating a culture would be worth nothing.”

On the field, Fremantle have hit near rock bottom this season.

Just three wins and rumours of player unrest have blighted the club in a year when they were meant to be challenging for the flag.

Pavlich has endured plenty of tough times at the Dockers throughout his 17-year career.

But he’s adamant Fremantle’s current plight is nothing compared to the dark early days, describing the club as “rock solid” now.

Pavlich said his faith in coach Ross Lyon and football operations manager Chris Bond had never been stronger, and he believed the club possessed a core group of players to help lift the club back up quickly.

And he said chief executive Steve Rosich and the club’s board were “incredibly united”.

Pavlich says he will take the next five to six months off to “smell the roses”, before deciding what the next phase of his life holds.

He hasn’t ruled out a role in football – or even coaching – down the track, but is keen to test himself out in a different industry first.

But his immediate focus after Sunday’s match will be on his wife Lauren, who is 36 weeks pregnant with their third child.

THE CAREER OF MATTHEW PAVLICH:

* Age: 34

* Draft: Pick No.4 in 1999 national draft

* Games: 352

* Goals: 699

* All Australian: 20-03, 2005-08

* Best and fairest: 2002, 2005-08, 2011

* Captain: 2007-15

* All Offers and Promotions posted in this article excludes NSW residents.
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