West Coast Eagles forward Daniel Venables has announced his retirement, delivering a moving speech to teammates more than two years after a serious brain injury derailed his AFL career.
Venables, a former top 20 draft pick and a 2018 premiership player, had it unanimously recommended to him by an AFL medical panel that he avoid playing contact sport as he continues to recover from the injury.
The concussion he suffered in May 2019 wreaked havoc on Venables’ life, with the 22-year-old suffering headaches and an inability to sleep for a year-and-a-half.
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In a video released by the club website, Venables informed the playing group of his retirement, urging them to never take an AFL game for granted.
“I’ve been in Melbourne the last couple of weeks and while I was there I attended my concussion panel and it’s come back that I can’t play footy anymore and that I need to retire. I guess we’re just here to announce that.
“It’s been a long, tough journey – it’s been over two years now. I’m just grateful for the opportunity that the club’s given me to come over here and play footy and live my dream.
“It’s pretty tough not knowing every day if tomorrow is the day that my symptoms clear up and I come good, but it is what it is.
“I feel like I’ve got life and everything in perspective now. I’m in a bit of a happy place now. Obviously I knew that the injury was a lot worse at the start – I had seven brain bleeds.
“It’s probably been a bit of a mental battle as much as a physical battle. I’m proud of the way that I’ve attacked it. Obviously it’s not the way I expected my career to go. It would’ve been handy to have 200 games, best and fairests and a couple more flags but we can’t do that.
“I just wanna thank the club again, for the opportunity they’ve given me from the start. I’ve given everything possible to get back in and I’ve tried my best, I really have. I’ve come a long way, that’s for sure. From my first rehab session, I genuinely had to learn how to do fine motor skills again, co-ordination again, balance, everything.
“I got to a point where Simmo was knocking the door down asking me to play! This is just life man and there’s not there’s not really much you can do and there’s a lot of people in worse positions and I know that.
“It’s just life for me now. I just really want to thank the club again. To the boys, I’ve got a lot of my best mates here. It’s going to be sad to go but it is what it is. If you can take anything out of I guess my story, it’s just play every game like it’s your last because you never know.”