by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago
A tearful Brad Johnson told the Western Bulldogs club this week that he would retire at the end of the season. He had spoken to Coach Rodney Eade midway through the year but Eade told him to sit back and think about it for a while. However Johnson, who has managed just 13 games due to an achilles injury, said the time was right to give the game away.
Johnson said telling his teammates was the hardest thing he had ever had to do but the achilles problem had hindered his training and preparation for games. He said he first began having trouble shortly after Christmas last year.
Johnson debuted for the Bulldogs in 1994 and quickly established himself as a star. He played in the two losing Preliminary Finals against Adelaide in 1997 and 1998. He began his career as a hardworking midfielder. In 2001 then coach Terry Wallace experimented by positioning Johnson in the forward line with surprisingly good results. Johnson became a permanent forward when Luke Darcy was sidelined with a knee injury in 2005.
Johnson, 34, played his 350th game in Round 11 this year. He not only holds the club games record, but is also seventh on the all-time League games list. He also represented Victoria on several occasions in the now defunct State of Origin games. His best season was 2006 when he kicked 74 goals, won the club best and fairest award and was named captain of the All-Australian team.
AFL DEBUT: 1994
GAMES: 362 (club record)
CLUB BEST AND FAIREST: 1999, 2002, 2006
ALL-AUSTRALIAN: 1999, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2006 (Captain), 2007
CLUB CAPTAIN: 2006-2010
CLUB LEADING GOALKICKER: 2001, 2005-08
AFL RISING STAR NOMINEE: 1995
INTERNATIONAL RULES: 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003
Member of the Western Bulldogs' team of the century
Source: theage.com.au, afl.com.au, Encyclopedia of League Footballers
Article last changed on Wednesday, September 08, 2010 - 8:38 AM EDT