AFTER 12 years, Melbourne’s Michael Hibberd will call time on his AFL career at season’s end.
The Demons’ defender informed players and coaches of the decision on Sunday afternoon, reflecting on a remarkable journey at the top level.
“I have really loved my time at the club. I love the boys and I feel like I could play until I am 40, but I know that’s not the reality,” Hibberd said.
“The body gets a bit slower as you get older, and although I like to think that I have a little bit left in me, I feel like going out with a little left in the tank is the right way to go about it, and that’s a decision I am really comfortable with.
“It has been one hell of a ride and I am so thankful to have done it with this playing group.”
Being drafted to Essendon during the 2011 pre-season draft, Hibberd has tallied 197 matches to date, 113 of which have been in the red and blue.
He made the move to Melbourne ahead of the 2017 season, following five years and 84 games as a Bomber, and has gone on to make his mark in the club’s history books.
The 33-year-old’s accolades include representing Australia in International Rules and earning All Australian honours in his first season at the club, and being part of Melbourne’s drought-breaking AFL premiership in 2021.
Hibberd said he was incredibly proud of what he had achieved over the years and highlighted his strong bond with Senior Coach Simon Goodwin.
“Goody has been part of my journey since my first year in the AFL system and it's been fun times along the way,” Hibberd said.
“There's been some hard times as well, but…you've got the best out of me from the get-go.
“We have got a good friendship and there's been some hard coaching done at times, but it's only made me a better person and a better player.
“I appreciate Goody backing me in over the years and the opportunities that he has given me. This club has changed my life and it's been the best decision I've ever made to come here.”
Melbourne’s GM of AFL Performance Alan Richardson acknowledged Hibberd’s significant career and contribution to the game.
“Michael will leave an incredible mark on not only our football club, but the competition,” Richardson said.
“The impact he has had since arriving at our club has been enormous, and he has shown up every single day with an attitude to get better – both as a player and a teammate.
“Michael is someone who plays with heart, spirit and desperation, and he should be very proud of what he has achieved over the years at the elite level. We have been a better team, thanks to him.
“Michael will continue to play an important role for us throughout this AFL Finals Series, as we forge towards next week’s Semi Final.”
Originally from Somerville on the Mornington Peninsula, Hibberd has played 12 games so far this season; his most recent in Melbourne’s Qualifying Final last week.