MELBOURNEfc captain and Club champion David Neitz announced his retirement from AFL football today at the MCG.
Neitz, who played his final game against Carlton in Round Five at the MCG, has been advised by specialists that if he continues to play AFL football, it will be at the risk of requiring spinal surgery.
Neitz suffered a bulging disc, which gave him some discomfort during the pre-season, and had improved over time, but had a severe setback in Round Five.
Neitz said today, "Everyone would love a fairytale ending to their football careers, to be cheered off after your last game, but that is rarely the case. It is disappointing to end on this note, but to play 300 games of football for the Melbourne Football Club, I'd have to consider myself a very fortunate person.
"I consulted two neurosurgeons and Club doctors, and it was clear to me that it is too big a risk to put myself out in a competitive AFL environment.
"Even though this year was disappointing from a playing and injury point of view, over my career at this Club I have some wonderful memories and have got to experience many things for which I am enormously grateful.
"I look back at my 19 years with Melbourne as a huge, life changing experience. It has impacted on every aspect of my life in some way or another. It has challenged me, made me ask questions of myself, and has continually asked me to meet those challenges, but has been a fantastic environment to develop in personally.
"I will remain involved with the Melbourne Football Club and the team for the remainder of the year. I'm looking forward to continuing working with the players and coaches, and will also work with the Club in the areas of marketing and strategic branding.
"I've been privileged to share my career with some of the Club greats, and I am excited by the young players coming through who I look forward to watching achieve great things in the future.
"I wish my team mates all the best for the remainder of the season, and I know they'll continue to improve under Dean's coaching."
Player Profile - David Neitz – 9
Heritage Number - 1144
DOB - 22.1.75
Height - 191 cm
Weight - 101.4 kg
Recruited - Parkmore
Drafted - MFC U19
Debut - 1993
Games - 306
Goals - 631
In the beginning: ‘Played third year of Teal Cup in 1992 and a full year of VSFL. Very strongly-built forward, who impressed in the reserves grand final, and will press for senior selection this season.’ (AFL Media Guide, 1993)
- Best First Year Player 1993
- Rising Star Nominee 1993
- Vic State Rep 1994, 1995
- Most Consistent Player 1995
- All Australian 1995, 2002
- Best Clubman 1995
- Fourth Best and Fairest 1996
- MFC Leading Goal Kicker 1996, 97, 99, 2002, 03, 04
- Fifth Best and Fairest 1999
- Best Team Player 2000, 2001
- Second Best and Fairest 1995, 2001
- Best and Fairest 2002
- Coleman Medallist 2002
- International Rules Series 2002
- Third Best and Fairest 2003
- Fourth Best and Fairest 2006
- Captain since 2000
- Goals Record Holder – Round Eight, 2006 vs Hawthorn (547th goal)
- Games Record Holder – Round 10, 2006 vs St Kilda (273rd game)
- 300 games – Round 20, 2007 vs Collingwood
Before making his senior debut with Melbourne, Neitz played three years of Teal Cup, and a full year of VSFL. He was a member of Melbourne’s reserves Grand Final team in 1992, and impressed as a ‘very strongly-built forward’.
In his senior debut season of 1993, Neitz played 20 games, wearing No. 38, and kicked 17 goals.
Neitz’s Coleman win in 2002 signified the first time a Melbourne player had led the V/AFL goal kicking since Fred Fanning kicked 97 in 1947.
David Neitz has kicked the most goals ever of any player in the V/AFL to wear the No. 9 guernsey.
David Neitz began as a talented youngster from Parkmore who had to fill holes in key positions at CHB and CHF in his first season in 1993. After breaking into the seniors, he was never dropped, representing Victoria within a season. Working on his mobility reaped rewards as his career developed, and in 1997 he had to shoulder the marking forward role as Lyon and Schwarz were out injured. After overcoming injuries himself, Neitz was appointed captain from the 2000 season, and grew into the role steadily. In 2002 he had a stellar season, winning the Best and Fairest, as well as the Coleman Medal, and since that time he has established himself as the record holder at Melbourne for years of captaincy, goals kicked and games played. He was the first Melbourne player to pass 300 games, and the ‘David Neitz Medal’ for the Club’s 300-game players was instituted in his honour.