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Buckley calls it a day


COLLINGWOOD captain Nathan Buckley has announced his retirement from AFL football.

The worst-kept secret in footy was made public on Friday when the Magpies legend and six-time Copeland Trophy winner called it quits.

Flanked by coach Mick Malthouse and club president Eddie McGuire at the clubs Lexus Centre headquarters, Buckley drew the curtain on his sparkling 280-game career.

His parents, Ray and Karen, were present for the announcement, as were his wife Tania and son Jett.

Buckley, 35, went to see Malthouse on Sunday to discuss his future but said he knew the time was right to pull the plug on his playing days as he had lost faith in his body.

“Tuesday night it (the decision) was made,” Buckley said.

“I was speaking to Tania and my father … I notified both Mick and Ed on Wednesday (at) lunchtime.

“Basically in my mind, you know my body’s just not ready to go.

“I’ll never not want to play the game. That’ll remain with me for the rest of my life but I just can’t trust my body anymore.”

Buckley admitted to re-injuring his hamstring in the dying minutes of Collingwood’s five-point preliminary final loss to Geelong and said he would have been unlikely to have played in the Grand Final should the Pies have got home that night.

Buckley, who represented Australia in International Rules and captained his country in 1999, will go down as one of the all-time greats – not only at Collingwood but of the VFL/AFL.

One of the game’s most damaging midfielders, he booted 284 goals in his career and will be remembered as arguably the best kick the game has ever seen.

He won a Brownlow Medal (2003), a Norm Smith Medal (2002) and was a seven-time All-Australian in a career that netted him almost every individual honour available.

Sadly however, he leaves AFL football without the one thing he most craved – a premiership medallion.

He came close twice, playing in two losing Grand Finals against the Brisbane Lions – the club he started his career with back in 1993 and where he played 20 matches.

But with the then Brisbane Bears struggling for success, Buckley headed south to the bigger, seemingly more successful Collingwood.

Ironically, he would miss out on Brisbane’s history-making triple premiership sides from 2001-2003.

Buckley was a sensation – and a Magpie favourite – from the moment he pulled on the Collingwood jumper.

His sublime foot skills and ball-winning ability always made him stand out on a football field.

His efforts for the Magpies – especially once assuming the captaincy in 1999 – seemed to make his teammates walk a little taller.

He was instrumental in helping a young Collingwood side leap from ninth in 2001 to the Grand Final the following year.

The Magpies would fall just short, but Buckley’s efforts were rewarded with best afield honours.

It was little consolation for the skipper, who exuded the team-first approach and, at the time, showed little regard for his Norm Smith Medal.

Hamstring injuries plagued Buckley later in his career but his talents when the ball was in his vicinity could not be questioned.

Even in his final match – this year’s preliminary final in which the Pies pushed eventual premier Geelong all the way – Buckley looked dangerous.

He is a massive loss to the game, particularly after the recent exits of league luminaries James Hird, Glenn Archer, Anthony Koutoufides, Mark Ricciuto, Chris Grant and Fraser Gehrig.

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