Brent Stanton of the Bombers during the round-three match against the Blues.
Brent Stanton of the Bombers during the round-three match against the Blues. JULIAN SMITH

Bombers veteran to hang up boots at season's end

ESSENDON veteran Brent Stanton is the latest player to announce his retirement, confirming the 2017 AFL season will be his last.

Stanton announced his retirement on Thursday, becoming the third Bomber in as many weeks to call it quits, following James Kelly and Jobe Watson.

The hard-running midfielder said he would now look to pursue a coaching career.

"This was a decision I have been wrestling with for some time, but I'm glad I had the opportunity to come back and play one more season for the footy club that's been such a huge part of my life," Stanton said in a club statement.

"I'm extremely grateful the club gave me an opportunity to play at the elite level, and I leave with plenty of fond memories, a great group of mates and 255 games alongside my name.

"I've learnt a lot about myself over the course of this season. And while I haven't played as much senior football as I would have liked, I've really enjoyed my time guiding and mentoring the young players in the VFL this season.

"I've always had a passion for coaching, and I now look forward to exploring the opportunity to pursue a career."

Stanton has spent the back half of the season playing VFL after 10 straight seasons - excluding his 2016 suspension - in which the ball-winner notched 20 or more senior games.

But the emergence of several younger players have contributed to his demotion this year, although he did register seven senior appearances early in the season.

Stanton was drafted with Pick 13 in the 2003 National Draft and has played 255 games since debuting in the opening round of 2004.

He finished in the top three of Essendon's best and fairest on four occasions and represented Australia twice in the International Rules series.

Stanton was one of 34 Bombers to be banned for the 2016 season after being found guilty of using a banned performance-enhancing substance.

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