The recurrence of a long-term foot injury that requires surgery has forced Roger Hayden to call an end to his 128-game career with the Fremantle Dockers.

The 30-year-old advised the playing group of his decision before training today at Patersons Stadium.

Recruited from South Fremantle, Hayden was picked up in the 2001 Rookie Draft (No. 21) and elevated to the senior list in 2002, making his debut in round 15 that year.

After playing all but one game in 2010, the club has missed Hayden’s customary sweeping role across half-back for much of 2011. Following surgery on his injured foot late last year, he has managed to play only three games this season.

The father of two played his last game in round 17 against Sydney at the SCG, when he broke the fibula in his right leg during Freo’s 11 point win over the Swans.

Hayden said today that, in the end, the battles with his body had forced him to call an end to his AFL career.

“Going through the rehab again, especially at my age, the healing process takes a little bit longer,” he said.

“I had a chat with my family and, in the best interests of my body, I’ve decided to retire.”

Hayden said the hardest part of not being a Fremantle player anymore would be never pulling the jumper on and running out with his teammates again.

“The playing group that we have now, if we can get everyone on the park, will go a very long way over the next few years,” he said.

“To not be a part of that is something that’s going to be hard.”

He has no plans for the immediate future other than spending some quality time with his wife and two young boys.

“Your family and friends can often take a back seat to the rigours of an AFL lifestyle,” he said.

“Sitting down and relaxing and catching up with my family and friends is first and foremost.”

Senior coach Mark Harvey was glowing in his praise of Hayden, who he described as a player that had the ability to make those around him look better than what they were.

“It was a unique ability to expose the game and find the right option,” he said.

“Not a lot of players could direct play like him. He was one of the best at exposing the game through traffic.”

Harvey said Fremantle had sorely missed Hayden’s talents in 2011.

“He’s been a key driver to defending and rebounding,” he said.

“You’re starting to see a lot of Indigenous players go back across that line, and that’s on the back of guys like Roger who have done it for a period of time. It’s unfortunate we’ve only seen him in 128 games.”

Harvey added that Hayden was a “wonderful person” to have around the club.

“There was never a bad word spoken about him,” he said.

“He had the belief of every one of his teammates about how good he was, but he probably didn’t know how good he was.”

Hayden said being at Fremantle his entire career had left him with many cherished memories to take away from the game.

“I love Fremantle and the Fremantle culture,” he said.

“To be a part of the one team throughout my whole career has been unbelievable.”

He thanked the Freo fans for their support over the past 11 seasons.

“It’s been a rollercoaster ride for myself and the club,” he said.

“What the fans bring to the team has been incredible.

“I’d like to thank them very much and there’s no doubt I’ll be amongst them in the future sitting in the crowd.”

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