His body broken but his zest for life intact, Collingwood star Dane Swan has confirmed his AFL retirement.
Swan’s future has been up in the air since suffering a serious foot injury in round one of the AFL season, with the injury likened to the impact suffered in a car crash.
The 32-year-old said he made a decision “two or three weeks ago” that he wouldn’t be able to play on.
“I just couldn’t trust my foot to go round any more,” he said on Tuesday.
“I was trying to fight the decision a lot in my head. I’d probably known for a while that I don’t think I could play.
“It was right in my gut that I needed to go.
“They say die a hero before you live long enough to be the villain.”
In 14 AFL seasons, Swan certainly became a hero, achieving cult status for his colourful personality.
He was awarded the club best and fairest three times, was named as an All-Australian five times and won the 2011 Brownlow Medal.
He said his highlight was the 2010 premiership, won in a grand final replay after their drawn decider with St Kilda.
Collingwood feted his life and career at their training base on Tuesday, with past and present coaches Mick Malthouse and Nathan Buckley sharing a stage.
Malthouse said he saw enough in the left-footer to draft him with pick No.58 in 2001 even though “his feet were pointing east and west” and he could barely kick.
“(He had a) strong family background, strong football club and strong mateship,” Malthouse said.
“The pride factor was the greatest because he was not going to let people beat him.”
Buckley said he told Swan shortly after he suffered the injury he wanted him to play on in 2017.
“We were looking forward to seeing him as a forward who came and pinch hit through the middle,” he said.
“I reckon he could have done some real damage.
“(The injury) was about the only thing that was going to stop him.”
Swan broke three bones in his foot, including a Lisfranc fracture, in the first minutes of the Magpies’ season-opening clash with Sydney.
“I’m sad to finish up,” he wrote on Instagram, announcing his decision on Tuesday morning.
“But can’t wait for the next part of my life to start to invest more time into my friends and family who have invested 15 years of there (sic) life into mine.”