Carlton champion Kade Simpson will retire after 18 seasons of AFL football, which is a lot more than he ever imagined
The 36-year-old has called time and will finish with the third most games played in Carlton history.
Simpson, who was drafted in 2002, told his teammates on Tuesday that this week’s final clash against Brisbane would be his last.
“I never believed when I was drafted that I’d still be playing 18 years later,” Simpson said.
“It’s something that hopefully down the track I’ll look back on and appreciate, but right now I just want to thank everyone who has helped me, on and off the field, during my career.
“The bond you have with your teammates is why you play footy, so thank you to all the boys I’ve shared the field with. My coaches and all the staff who I’ve worked alongside, there is no way I’d still be running around without your help.
“Also thank you to my wife Diana and my family. The support I have received from you has never wavered. You have helped me through the toughest challenges, and it has been great to share all the good times with you.
“It has been an honour to play for the Carlton Football Club. This place has been my home for such a long time, and I’ve never taken for granted what it has meant to run out in that No.6 in front of what is the most passionate supporter base in the AFL. Thank you to all our members and supporters- the noise and passion you’ve shown at our games is among my greatest memories.
Simpson is the last remaining player from his 2002 draft class. He also played 158 consecutive games between 2005–2012, a Carlton record and the third longest streak in AFL/VFL history.
A club best and fairest winner in 2013, Simpson has finished in the top three on four occasions.
In Round 4 this year Simpson cemented his place in Blues immortality when he surpassed Legend John Nicholls to move into outright third for most AFL games played in the club’s history. Only Bruce Doull and Craig Bradley sit above.
In Round 16 Simpson played game No.340, moving him into the top 20 for most games played in AFL history.
Carlton coach, and former teammate, David Teague paid tribute to Simpson and highlighted just how much he had meant to the football club.
“Many have come and gone from the Carlton Football Club over the last 18 years, but Simmo has been our one constant who has never failed to represent our guernsey with class,” Teague said.
“You look at Simmo’s build when he walked through the doors in 2002. Nobody would have believed that guy would go on to play the third most games in the history of our football club. What we didn’t know then was the size of Simmo’s heart, his absolute, never-say-die commitment to get the job done for his teammates, his coaches and our members and supporters.
“He has given everything he possibly can to Carlton. This club simply could not have asked for any more from him and for that we will forever be grateful. When this season is over, Simmo will rightly take his place among the greatest players to ever wear the navy Blue guernsey.”