Essendon great Hooker announces retirement

1 month ago 10
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Essendon veteran Cale Hooker has announced his retirement after a 14-year, 219-game career at the club.

Hooker informed his teammates on Tuesday that the 2021 season would be his last, as the club moves into a new era with a host of bright young stars on its list.

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Initially selected with pick 54 in the 2007 national draft, Hooker soon developed into one of the best key position players in the competition.

The 32-year-old has been a pivotal figure at both ends of the ground for Essendon over the last decade, with his versatility highlighted by an All-Australian appearance as a defender in 2014 and a Best and Fairest award as a forward in 2015.

Hooker kicked 33 goals after being swung up forward as an emergency option this year following the injury to Michael Hurley (Getty)

Hooker was initially expected to play as a defender in Ben Rutten's side this season, before being sent forward after the injury to fellow veteran Michael Hurley, and is currently third on Essendon's goal-kicking list for the year with 33 goals in 18 games.

He was omitted from the team after the Round 19 loss to the GWS Giants and has not played since.

"I couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity the club has given me and I will leave the game at the end of the season knowing I left no stone unturned to give the club, my teammates and the fans everything I had," Hooker said in a club statement on Tuesday.

"To have been part of something bigger than myself, something that is so important to so many people, has been such a privilege and an honour. Representing this jumper is something I will never take for granted.

"I love this football club and I just want to thank all my teammates, coaches, staff, volunteers and all the members and supporters who have been with me throughout this journey."

Hooker's veteran presence has been vital in Rutten's Essendon side shooting up the ladder this season (Getty)

The key position pillar will be forever adored by the Essendon faithful after spurning lucrative rival offers to remain with the club in the midst of its supplements scandal in 2017.

Hooker was the first big name from the 34 players suspended for the 2016 season to recommit to the club, with his signature being followed by a number of his in-demand teammates also pledging their futures to the club.

"Cale has given everything he can to the club since arriving at the end of 2007, and now it is our turn to say thank you," Rutten said in the statement.

"We'd like to congratulate Cale on his achievements throughout his career at Essendon. He has brought valuable experience and leadership particularly in recent years to this group, and he should be very proud of what he has accomplished in the red and black."

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