Eagle champ Braun announces retirement

By Nathan Schmook 3:24 PM Mon 07 July, 2008

Michael Braun says this season will be his last

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AFTER 222 games with the West Cost Eagles, veteran Michael Braun has announced this season will be his last.

An emotional Braun said after 12 seasons and 14 operations the time was right to leave the game and the club that has meant so much to him.

In front of the entire West Coast coaching staff, a handful of teammates and a full media pack, Braun, 30, said his mind was still willing but his body was no longer able.

"Reaching this decision has been tough, the toughest decision of my life," Braun said on Monday.

"I have loved every minute of my time at the West Coast Eagles and have worn the jumper with pride, because this club and this great game have meant so much to me.

"My mind keeps telling me to push harder and faster but my body is not always responding the way I like."

Braun missed West Coast's 2005 Grand Final with a knee injury that has hampered him for the past four years. He said speaking to the players ahead of today's press conference had now surpassed that as the toughest moment of his career.

But he said he will leave the game satisfied and proud, having achieved his dream of being a premiership player.

"Being a premiership player and a life member of this football club are two things that I will cherish for the rest of my life," he said.

"For a loyal person, I think this club is a mighty club and I'm very proud to say that I've played for the West Coast Eagles."

The determined wingman was runner-up in West Coast's 1999 best and fairest, but 2006 was arguably his best year, playing every game and being a crucial part of the premiership side.

Not born with the attributes of a modern footballer, Braun said he had to find a different formula to achieve his dream, and it had payed off. 

"I have never been the most talented or gifted player," he said.

"But I think I have made up for that with my work ethic that gave me a fitness level that allowed me to work hard for four quarters and perform my role for the team.

"It has always been about my teammates - looking them in the eye before they run out knowing I have prepared to the best of my ability and doing the same when we come off the ground a couple of hours later."

Eagles coach John Worsfold said Braun had faced a number of challenges through his career, but overcame them all to be an outstanding player.

"Some [challenges] have been thrown to him by his coaches, and some have been thrown to him by opposition coaches trying to force match-ups thinking they can exploit him," Worsfold said. 

"Not many have been successful.

"Suffice to say, seeing some of the injuries he's had to overcome and some of the surgery that he's had post-season, you think well, he'll start the season late the following year, but the way he's prepared himself and done his rehab programs to get himself cherry ripe for the next season has been inspiring."

Worsfold said he expected Braun to play against Richmond this Sunday at Subiaco Oval and his selection will be a week-to-week proposition, with a farewell match to take place later in the season.

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