North Melbourne club great Jack Ziebell has announced he will retire at season’s end.
The 32-year-old shed tears as he told teammates during an emotional speech before training on Friday morning.
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“On one hand it’s always a hard decision to give up the thing you love the most, but on the other I think my body will thank me for it,” Ziebell said.
“From the time I walked into the place I’ve felt right at home and I’ve made some amazing lifelong friendships and connections. This is a special place and I’ll always cherish being part of the club.
“I’ve given everything I can for this footy club, but I think the time is right for me to pass the baton to others to take us forward.
Jack Ziebell with his daughter after announcing his retirement. Credit: nmfc.com.au
“I truly believe we have the building blocks to eventually go far as a club. I think back to those finals wins in 2014 and ’15 and how amazing the feeling around the club was and I know those times aren’t too far away.
“To our fans – you have been amazingly supportive of me over my entire journey. I can’t thank you enough and I look forward to seeing the joy on your faces when we do turn things around.
“I have so many more people to thank but I’ll get myself through to the end of the season and express my appreciation then.”
Ziebell arrived at North Melbourne in 2008 via pick nine in the AFL draft.
He made his debut in Round 1, 2009 and quickly impressed with his ferocious attack on the ball.
He was elevated to the leadership group as a 21-year-old and assumed the captaincy ahead of the 2017 season before standing down at the start of this year.
Ziebell has played 276 games to date and kicked 183 goals.
Jack Ziebell says the time is right for him to retire after giving his all to North Melbourne. Credit: AAP
He has been a constant feature this year, although he has been the starting substitute the past three weeks.
North Melbourne general manager of football Todd Viney said Ziebell’s presence would be missed.
“I can remember watching Jack from afar and thinking that he’s my kind of footballer,” Viney said.
“To watch him up close and see the leadership, ability to play through adversity and the team-first attitude has been a real privilege.
“I’ve only been here a short time in Jack’s 15-year journey but he’s been a pillar of strength in what’s been a tough period and he’s been a great support to everyone at the club.”
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