Fremantle midfielder Paul Hasleby has announced his retirement as an AFL player.

A veteran of 207 games with Fremantle, Hasleby confirmed to club officials earlier today that he would not be seeking to renew his contract in 2011.

Depending on fitness, the 29-year-old, who was a late withdrawal from last Saturday’s game due to swelling in his knee, will be available for selection against Carlton on Friday night at Subiaco Oval.

In round 1 of 2000, the then 18-year-old announced his arrival on the AFL scene with a record 30-possession effort on debut against Geelong at Subiaco Oval.

Eleven seasons after being taken by Fremantle as a priority selection in the 1999 AFL National Draft, he played his 200th game for the club in round 13 this year against Carlton at Etihad Stadium.

His decorated career includes the AFL Rising Star award in 2000, All Australian and International Rules selection in 2003 and four Ross Glendinning medals for best-on-ground in Carlton Mid Derbies.

However, in a round one 2008 NAB Cup game against West Coast, Hasleby suffered a devastating knee injury which required a reconstruction that forced him to miss the entire season.

Displaying the true grit that personified his game, Hasleby made a successful comeback the following year and finished fifth in the Doig Medal after playing in all 22 home and away games in 2009 and leading Fremantle in disposals and handballs.

Hasleby said it was the right time for him to move on to the next chapter in his life.

“When you walk around this football club there is such an abundance of talent and youth all with the ‘eye of the tiger’ ready to take on the challenge of an AFL career,” he said.

“That more than anything probably signified to me that it was time to stand aside for the young guys to come in and do their bit.”

Hasleby said he had not made a firm decision on what he would do once his playing career ends.

“I love football and always have…it’s my passion,” he said.

“I’ve been involved in football at this level for 11 years and would love to give something back to the game in some form. Whether that be in coaching or in the media remains to be seen.”

Senior coach Mark Harvey paid tribute to how Hasleby played the game and in particular his comeback in 2009 from serious injury.

“Paul specialised in a very important area of the game and had the willingness and the ability to overcome the difficulties that come with recovering from such an injury,” he said.

“He grew up here firstly as a student of how the senior players played the game and then the roles changed as he became a tutor to our younger players as they’ve come through.

“The decision to retire is never easy because you get entrenched and have a passion for playing the game at the elite level and all of a sudden that comes to a close.”

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