NORTH Melbourne forward Nathan Thompson has officially announced his retirement, a day after the club announced it would not offer him a contract for 2009.
Thompson, 30, had previously been told he would be required next year, but the Roos changed their minds after two weeks of list analysis following their elimination final exit.
Club chairman James Brayshaw then confirmed the decision on The Footy Show on Thursday night.
"During discussions with Dean [Laidley] and Donald [McDonald] it became clear that I would have limited opportunities to play senior football next year," Thompson said, in a statement released by the club on Friday afternoon.
"While I was initially keen to play on, I felt that stepping aside would be the best thing to do for myself, my family and the club.
"The future success of the club is very important to me, and I want to ensure that the young players on our list get the opportunity to play senior football.
"I would like to thank my wife Libby, my children and my family. I am looking forward to the next phase of my life, which will hopefully still involve football."
Thompson said he wanted to leave the game on good terms and as a North Melbourne player. The former Hawk returned to football this season after missing all of 2006 with a knee injury.
He managed 15 games this year for a return of 29 goals, and his fluctuating form led to inconsistent appearances in the seniors towards the end of the season.
Thompson was Hawthorn's leading goalkicker in 2003, and North Melbourne's in 2005 and 2006. He also placed second in the Kangaroos' best and fairest in 2006, and was an AFL Rising Star nominee in 1999.
He retires having played a total of 179 AFL games, including 119 with Hawthorn from 1998 to 2004, and 60 with the Kangaroos from 2005 onwards.
Club chief of football Donald McDonald said Thompson's contribution to the Kangaroos in the past four years has been significant.
"Thommo made an impact as soon as he came to the club. He has been a leader on the field and has provided a focal point for us up forward over a number of years," he said.
"He has made a really positive impact off the field as well. His knowledge and experience has been invaluable for our young forwards, and he has made a great contribution to their development.
"The determination and professionalism he showed to overcome setbacks in his career set a great example for his teammates."
North Melbourne chief executive Eugene Arocca also praised Thompson and offered the club's full support in his retirement.
"Nathan's professionalism and dedication to the club have been evident throughout this process," he said.
"While his playing career has come to an end, he will remain an important part of the club. We will support him fully as he makes the transition to life after football."
Thompson has expressed a desire to further his media career and become involved in football-related activities.
Games: 179 (North Melbourne 60, Hawthorn 119)
Recruited from: Hawthorn/Bendigo U18/Kyneton
Brownlow medal: 41 career votes
Honours: North Melbourne leading goalkicker 2005, 2006
Runner up North Melbourne Best and Fairest 2006
Hawthorn leading goalkicker 2003
AFL Rising Star nominee 1999