Fremantle footballer Scott Thornton today announced his retirement from the AFL.

The 27-year-old defender played a total of 88 AFL games after making his debut in round 8, 2002.

Thornton told the playing group that the entire club was like a family to him, but that in the end a broken leg had forced his hand.

After he broke a bone in his leg playing for South Fremantle on 7 June, Thornton was scheduled to miss another 8-10 weeks in what had already been an injury-ravaged season. He said the thought of putting his body through yet another rehabilitation program was a major factor in his decision to retire.

“Rehab can be a bit draining,” he said.

“It can take you to your limits every day. I’ve been thinking about retiring for a while now. I’ve only played two-and-a-half WAFL games this year. I just couldn’t put my body through another AFL pre-season.”

One of Thornton’s major career setbacks came in 2003 when he was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, which is an inflammatory bowel disease.

Being an elite athlete, who had played at the highest level with a debilitating disease, Thornton said he hoped he had been a good role-model for others who might have had similar problems.

“As I’ve gotten older and more mature, I’ve realised how I could inspire other people,” he said.

“Hopefully, they have had a look at what I’ve done and said to themselves, ‘I can get myself right and I can make myself healthy’.”

Thornton said the hardest part about retiring was that he would never be able to run out and play football for Fremantle with his teammates again.

“I’ve been here the best part of 10 years, so that’s been a big chunk of my life,” he said. “I’ll miss the camaraderie. I’ve made best friends for life here.”

Senior coach Mark Harvey said Thornton’s battles over the years with injury and Crohn’s disease were an inspiration to everyone at the club.

“He achieved highly in an elite field, knowing that not a lot of things went right for him, from illness to injury,” Harvey said.

“He never gave up the fight, until now.”

Thornton said he was not looking too far ahead in terms of playing on in the WAFL.

“I’m not thinking about playing just yet,” he said.

“I might go on a bit of a holiday and do some travelling for now.”

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