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29 Aug 2012

Jeremy Clayton has announced his retirement from League football after a highly-decorated eight seasons with Port Adelaide, in which he established himself as one of the club’s most courageous and uncompromising players.

The 31-year-old has told his team-mates of his intention to hang up the boots at the end of the 2012 SANFL season, ending a career that stands at 124 games for the Magpies.

Clayton was recruited to Port Adelaide from North Melbourne ahead of the 2005 season and in his debut year earned the Magarey Medal as the league’s fairest and most brilliant player.

The fearless 177cm on-baller – noted for his ability to amass damaging contested possessions while also hitting the scoreboard - was unable to accept the prestigious award as he was in hospital recovering from a ruptured spleen suffered in the qualifying final the previous weekend.

Clayton’s inaugural year at Alberton would also deliver the first of four consecutive A.R. McLean Medals as Port Adelaide’s best and fairest player, a feat of consistent achievement unmatched in the club’s 142-year history.

He made his 100th appearance for the Port Adelaide Football Club in 2010, reaching the milestone in a game that many thought may have been his last when he suffered a knee injury that required a reconstruction.

But showing the character and determination that he has always displayed on the field, Clayton returned the following season to play some of his best football before rounding out his career with a consistent final season in 2012.

His toughness, fight for the ball and commitment to always play in true Port Adelaide spirit has seen him held in the highest regard by team-mates, coaches, members and supporters.

Port Adelaide coach Tony Bamford, says Clayton’s retirement will leave a big hole in the senior playing group.

“Jeremy has made an outstanding contribution to the Port Adelaide Football Club as a player since he arrived in 2005,” Bamford said.

“His list of individual achievements - including four best and fairest awards and a Magarey Medal - stack up alongside some of the greatest ever Port Adelaide players.

“While ‘Jezza‘ can and should be very proud of these awards, he like many great players who have missed out on the ultimate team success at League level would trade them all in for a premiership medal I’m sure.”

While Clayton has not played in a Port Adelaide premiership side, the club is out to keep its finals chances alive in its last two home games of the 2012 season.

“With a lot of hard work and a bit of luck we still have an opportunity to make his dream come true in the coming weeks,” Bamford said.

“’Jezza’ has been a pleasure to work with in my time as senior coach. With the naturally talented players, like he is, you don’t have to do much coaching as they already understand the game better than most.

“Our relationship has been based more on mentoring. Ensuring that ‘Jezza’ understood his role in our team and was willing and able to accept these new challenges we gave him was my main focus.

“He has always been an elite footballer, but over the past few years he has not only maintained his elite standing in our competition, he has also come back from the most serious of knee injuries at the same time as getting married to Beth and starting a family with the arrival of their two boys, Nash and Hardy.

“We have had the privilege of seeing him grow as a person and become the strong family man he is today.

“I wish ‘Jezz’, Beth, Nash and Hardy all the best in the next phase of their life and thank them for their significant contribution to our footy club.”

Magpies captain James Meiklejohn describes Clayton as “undoubtedly the most talented individual I have had the pleasure of playing football with” and a “consummate team man who was courageous, selfless, humble and extremely driven to succeed”.

“I, and no doubt every one of his teammates since 2005, feel extremely privileged to have been able to witness first hand his amazing career. Jeremy Clayton still amazes with things he does during a game.

“He only ever wanted team success andhe is universally respected throughout the football community. ‘Jezza’ epitomises the Port Adelaide type of player – tough, uncompromising and ruthless.

“He will be sorely missed on and off the field, and I wish him, Beth, Nash & Hardy all the best in the future. Love ya mate.”

The Port Adelaide Football Club sincerely thanks Jeremy for his outstanding commitment to the club over eight years. He will be sorely missed. We wish him, Bethany, Nash and Hardy every success in their next exciting phase in their lives.

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