SYDNEY Swan Ben Mathews, a member of the club's 2005 premiership team, has announced his immediate retirement.
Mathews met with senior coach Paul Roos and general manager of football Andrew Ireland to conclude a career that included 198 games in 13 years.
Recruited from the Murray Bushrangers, he joined the Swans as a zone selection in the 1995 draft, made his debut in 1997, won a Rising Star nomination in 1999 and finished third in the club's best and fairest count in 2001.
It was at the end of that year that Mathews generated interest for his decision to retain his No. 4 guernsey when the competition's all-time leading goalkicker, Tony Lockett, emerged from a two-year retirement to play three more games.
Mathews stood his ground, despite Lockett's intentions to wear his old number, and the latter was left with 46.
Their differences were eventually resolved.
At his peak, Mathews was an effective stopper and held that role as the Swans took their first flag in 72 years, playing every game of that campaign, and the club followed it up with a grand final berth in 2006.
The 29-year-old added just two games this season, against the Western Bulldogs in round seven and Adelaide in round 17, and conceded that a struggle with commitment influenced his decision.
"My passion and enthusiasm to play at the highest level was starting to be compromised and I didn’t want to reach the point where I was letting down my teammates," Mathews said in a statement released by the club.
"I feel like I have given everything I possibly can throughout my career to play at the highest level and I leave AFL footy and the Sydney Swans with no regrets.
"The Sydney Swans have played a massive part in my life after leaving home at 16 and I want to thank the club for the opportunity to play AFL footy.
"It has been a fantastic journey and I take away some very special memories and lifelong friendships from my time here."
Roos, who played alongside Mathews in 1997 and 1998 and coached him from partway through 2002, was glowing of his achievements.
"Any player's objective at the start of their career is to give everything he possibly can for his team, his club and his teammates and to gain respect from the football community," Roos said.
"Benny Mathews is a player that has ticked all those boxes and he really has been a tremendous contributor to the Sydney Swans Football Club, culminating in his performance in the 2005 grand final."