Bombers veteran McVeigh retires from AFL
By Robert Grant
12:09 AEST Wed Aug 29 2012

Essendon midfielder Mark McVeigh has succumbed to injuries and decided to end his AFL career, rejecting an offer to play on next season.

The 31-year-old ends his time at Windy Hill after 232 games and said he was delighted to have bowed out as a one-club player.

He opted also to turn down the offer of a farewell match in this weekend's final home and away game against Collingwood, allowing a rookie-listed player to line up.

McVeigh has battled hip, knee and hamstring issues which have restricted him to three games this year and said the fight against injuries had proved too difficult.

"I'm mentally very fresh but my body probably gave me the signal this year that my time was up," McVeigh said on Wednesday.

"I worked very hard in the off season and the pre-season to get it to a stage where I could compete and I felt great going into the season.

"I absolutely loved the training program but at my age unfortunately injuries compounded."

McVeigh said coach James Hird told him he would support him if he wanted to play on next season.

"He was probably doing that more as a friend but I'm very fortunate that he's been by my side for a long time and I'll be greatly indebted to him for the rest of my life for the way he's treated me over the past 12 months and of course, my career."

McVeigh, who was drafted to the Bombers with pick nine in the 1998 AFL Draft from Pennant Hills in Sydney, made his debut in 1999 and played nine games but in the following year, when Hird captained the side to the premiership, he could manage just one match.

"It's not a regret because I wasn't good enough to play in 2000," McVeigh said.

"I did everything I could but in 2001 I'm proud of the way I fought and played every game, (including the grand final loss to Brisbane)."

Hird said he was uncertain how his former teammates would react to him when he became coach but that McVeigh had made it easy for him.

"He said I'll play wherever you want me to play, I'll work my backside off," Hird said.

"He was a pleasure to coach and one of the people who have made this football club a better place."

McVeigh plans to move back to Sydney with his wife Leanne and one-year-old daughter Ariana.

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