MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 30: Kade Simpson of the Blues walks to the coin toss ahead of his 300th match during the 2018 AFL round 15 match between the Carlton Blues and the Port Adelaide Power at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on June 30, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Carlton veteran Kade Simpson has today announced his retirement from the game at season’s end.

One of the modern day greats, the 36-year old calls time on his career after 341 games to date over 18 seasons.

Simpson will finish with 342 AFL appearances to sit third on Carlton’s all-time games played list, trailing only Bruce Doull and Craig Bradley.

Taken with Pick 45 in the 2002 AFL Draft, Simpson has forged a career as one of the most durable and reliable statesman and will be long remembered by fans for his iconic long sleeve guernsey.

He played 158 consecutive games from 2005 to 2012, a Carlton record and the third-longest streak in VFL/AFL history.

Simpson won Carlton’s best and fairest in 2013 and vice-captained the club in 2013, 2014 and 2016.

The defender thanked the Blues and game at large for everything it has given him.

“I never believed when I was drafted that I’d still be playing 18 years later,” Simpson told carltonfc.com.au.

“It’s something that hopefully down the track I’ll look back on and appreciate but right now I just want to thank everyone who has helped me, on and off the field, during my career.

“The bond you have with your teammates is why you play footy so thank you to all the boys I’ve shared the field with. My coaches and all the staff who I’ve worked alongside, there is no way I’d still be running around without your help.

“Also thank you to my wife Diana and my family. The support I have received from you has never wavered. You have helped me through the toughest challenges and it has been great to share all the good times with you.

“It has been an honour to play for the Carlton Football Club. This place has been my home for such a long time and I’ve never taken for granted what it has meant to run out in that No.6 in front of what is the most passionate supporter base in the AFL. Thank you to all our members and supporters—the noise and passion you’ve shown at our games is among my greatest memories.”

Blues coach David Teague was full of praise for everything Simpson has accomplished.

“Many have come and gone from the Carlton Football Club over the last 18 years but Simmo has been our one constant who has never failed to represent our guernsey with class,” Teague said.

“You look at Simmo’s build when he walked through the doors in 2002, nobody would have believed that guy would go on to play the third most games in the history of our football club. What we didn’t know then was the size of Simmo’s heart, his absolute, never-say-die commitment to get the job done for his teammates, his coaches and our members and supporters.

“He has given everything he possibly can to Carlton. This club simply could not have asked for any more from him and for that we will forever be greatful. When this season is over, Simmo will rightly take his place amongst the greatest players to ever wear the navy blue guernsey.”