Port Adelaide great Robbie Gray announced his retirement today. (Photo: PAFC)

Robbie Gray has officially announced his retirement from the AFL at the end of the season, which brings an end to a 16-year career with Port Adelaide.

Saturday night’s Showdown will be Gray’s last game in the AFL. The 34-year-old announced his retirement on Tuesday in a move that many saw coming.

His illustrious AFL career yielded many remarkable memories, and he will be regarded as one of the best Port Adelaide players of the AFL era.

Having managed 15 games across the season, there was a thought that the 2022 season would be his last, and it proved correct.

The 34-year-old spoke to the media on Tuesday morning and stated that that time was right to retire.

“Retirement has been on my mind for a fair while,” Gray said.

“I knew it was the right time. As hard as it is to make the call and admit to yourself that it’s time, I’m really comfortable with the decision.”

Gray was selected in the 2006 AFL Draft by Port Adelaide with pick 55. The small forward/midfielder immediately showed what he could do on a football field and endeared himself to the Port Adelaide faithful.

As he looks back on his career today, Gray thanked the club for everything it had given him while also saying that being a one-club player is special.

“I didn’t expect to get drafted,” Gray said.

“I came into the club dreaming of just playing a game. I’m grateful to the football club, firstly for picking me, but also to the people that have had big influences in my career and given me the opportunity.

“It’s incredibly special to me to be a one club player. It’s been great to repay the faith that the club has showed in me.”

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The Port Adelaide superstar has had many moments throughout his career that will live long in the memory. He booted five third-quarter goals in a Showdown in 2018 and snagged a last minute match-winner against St Kilda thanks to Paddy Ryder’s tap, but one game sticks out for the 34-year-old.

“One game stands out,” Gray said.

“It was 2013 and we went over and beat Collingwood at the MCG in a final. Given where we’d come from before, I remember being out on the G that night and just couldn’t believe it. It was my first final and no one gave us much hope.”

Hinkley has high praise for outgoing Gray

Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley, who has been with Gray for a large part of his career, had nothing but glowing words for the veteran. Having seen the 34-year-old develop under his keen eye, Hinkley says when it comes to those who have played the game, Gray is the best of the best.

“Robbie is the complete package, Hinkley said.

“He’s the absolute best of the best when it comes to playing the game, but he’s equally up there in the list of great people. We’ll all reflect back at some point and go ‘I coached Robbie Gray’, ‘I played with Robbie Gray’, ‘Robbie Gray was my mate’. He’s that type of guy.”

Gray’s football journey is not over just yet. He still has one more game to play, and it could not be against a better side. A Showdown to not only finish the season but to finish an illustrious career is something that Gray is looking forward to.

“I can’t wait to play in front of the Port Adelaide supporters one last time,” he said.

“They’ve given me and my family so much and have been such a great supporter of me personally. What they’ve done for me but also what they’ve done for the club – they’re amazing.”

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