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