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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago 

Veteran Collingwood defender Ben Johnson, who last played in Round Three this year, has succumbed to a run of injuries and announced his retirement just ahead of Round 17. Johnson, 32, said he had nothing left and it was the right time. Johnson has supported the club all his life and said, “It’s been a great ride. We enjoyed some great times, played some great footy and I’ve met some amazing people, including some of my best mates."

Former teammate and current coach Nathan Buckley praised Johnson's commitment to, and passion for, the club, saying he wore his heart on his sleeve, represented the club with distinction and was a great teammate and person. President Eddie McGuire said Johnson had been one of the club's greatest servants. McGuire said that when he asked permission to wear Gavin Brown's number 26, with tears in his eyes, it was a sign that Johnson would give his all for the club.

McGuire said two of the team's greatest highlights involved Johnson. The first was a match-saving tackle on Port Adelaide's Peter Burgoyne during the 2002 Qualifying Final and the second the goal he kicked in the 2010 Grand Final replay. Of that goal, McGuire said "you could tell it meant as much to him as it did to every Collingwood supporter." He also joked that Johnson could look forward to "having a beer for the rest of his life in the Collingwood past players’ bar. It certainly won’t be his first. A lot of us look forward to sharing many more great Collingwood moments with him.”

Johnson, a favorite of Magpie fans and a noted big game player, was drafted in 1999. Alongside other newcomers Leon Davis, Alan Didak, Josh Fraser, Chris Tarrant and Rhys Shaw, as well as senior players Buckley, Scott Burns, Tarkyn Lockyer, Paul Licuria and Anthony Rocca, he was part of the resurgent Magpies' return to Finals since the turn of the century.

BEN JOHNSON
GAMES: 235
GOALS: 70
HONORS: 2004 Jason McCartney Medal (best on ground vs North Melbourne), 2nd Best and Fairest 2004 and 2006, ANZAC Day Medal 2006, Bob Rose-Charlie Sutton Medal (best on ground vs Western Bulldogs) 2008, Premiership 2010, preseason Premiership 2011

Johnson ranks 14th on the club's all time games list.

Source: heraldsun.com.au, news.com.au, Stephen Rielly, Club Media Release

Article last changed on Monday, July 22, 2013 - 7:32 PM EDT


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