Port Adelaide veteran Brad Ebert has retired without speaking a word outside of his footy club after a nightmare preliminary final loss to Richmond on Friday night.
Ebert led his team from the field and was spotted wiping tears from his eyes after he appeared to suffer another serious head knock late in the last quarter — ending his career on the spot.
Ebert, who has battled concussion symptoms all season and missed a string of games mid-way through the season as a result of repeated head knocks, does not have a contract for 2021 and had not declared he wanted to play on next year.
Power coach Ken Hinkley said after the game his senior player had hung up his boots.
Hinkley said Ebert will make the announcement in coming days.
“I think it is pretty clear if you watch him coming off the ground tonight, that he’s done as an AFL player,” Hinkley said.
“He’s got to put himself, his health, and his family first. And he gives everything to our footy club. He will walk away from the club knowing he did everything he possibly can.
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“I had a lot of conversations with Brad through this year and the courage of that man is amazing. He just kept at it right to the end.
“Brad will certainly retire, I think. Tonight, if anything, tonight would have absolutely confirmed it for Brad. As much as he’s probably not thinking clear now. But he’s been pretty certain that this was probably going to be the end because he wasn’t prepared to risk any further injury to his head. It is too important. So Brad will definitely retire.”
His final act in football summed him up — a brave, selfless act that inspired his teammates.
With six minutes left in the fourth quarter he appeared to take an accidental elbow to the head while attempting to spoil a Jack Riewoldt mark.
He crashed to the Adelaide Oval turf, needing to be helped from the ground by trainers and was groggy on his feet.
Hinkley, though was philosophical about Ebert’s sad finish.
“He gave everything he had,” he said.
“He’s a great teammate. Obviously a great dad. He’s a great husband. He’s got lots of things going for him, Brad,
“He won’t be lost from the club all together. Obviously Brad will always be a part of the Port Adelaide footy club as he should be.”
The emotion of the moment was all too much for Ebert at full time, with several of his teammates also brought to tears when they embraced the retiring veteran.