Western Bulldogs premiership hero Clay Smith has announced his retirement effective immediately.
Since playing a pivotal role in the Dogs’ historic 2016 flag, Smith has been dogged by calf and knee injuries which have restricted him to just eight games in the past two seasons.
The 25-year-old has failed to play a game this year.
Drafted in 2011, three knee reconstructions meant Smith could only manage 55 AFL games.
But he will forever be remembered by the Bulldogs faithful for his remarkable 2016 finals series as he epitomised the famous team pressure which swept the Dogs to grand final glory.
He averaged 18 disposals and kicked eight goals in that September campaign, including 26 touches against GWS in the preliminary final win.
“It was a very difficult decision for me to retire at my age, but the right one to make given my knee hasn’t been able to fully recover,” Smith said.
“I’ve given everything to try to make it back this season, but unfortunately it hasn’t worked out the way I would’ve liked.
“I want to thank everyone at the Western Bulldogs for their support over my career, and especially the medical staff, physios and strength and rehab staff for their care and professionalism.
“It’s been a difficult road for me, but I was able to experience being in the premiership team and I wouldn’t swap that for anything.
“I’ve also met some great people, made some incredible friendships, and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to play AFL football.
“While life without footy will leave a big hole in my life, it has shaped me as a person and helped me grow and I’m thankful for that.”