MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 30: Bachar Houli of the Tigers in action during the 2017 AFL round 02 match between the Richmond Tigers and the Collingwood Magpies at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 30, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Long-time Essendon list manager Adrian Dodoro has revealed the club did all it could to keep future All-Australian and Richmond premiership star Bachar Houli at the Bombers.

Drafted in 2007, Houli never established himself in the Bombers lineup, playing 26 games across four seasons. He requested a trade to Punt Road at the end of the 2010 season but was instead delisted by Essendon and picked up by the Tigers in the pre-season draft.

But Dodoro insists Houli walked out on the club even as himself and James Hird pleaded with him to reconsider.

“It’s one I’d like to set the record straight, because there’s been recent press that we delisted and let Bachar go. Well in a way that may be right, but he walked out on us at the time and we pleaded for him to stay,” Dodoro told the Dodcast.

“It’s one of the biggest disappointments in my career, to be honest, because we’d taken Bachar and we believed in him, but he felt he wasn’t getting a fair go at the time.

“He felt that he wasn’t getting selected when he should’ve been selected and felt that the grass was greener at Richmond.

“Good luck to him. He’s become a fabulous player, another All-Australian player and a premiership hero at Richmond. You couldn’t get a nicer person than Bachar, but we certainly didn’t let him go. We wanted to keep him.

“Hopefully one day we can sit down and have a chat to him and hopefully he looks back on his days at Essendon as something that helped him with his career.”

Dodoro went on to explain that the best thing for the club was for Houli to slip into the pre-season draft rather than be traded to the Tigers.

“The reason why there was no trade done was because, at the time, Richmond offered us a pick that we couldn’t use in the draft,” he said.

“So strategically, we assessed the best thing for us to do was, if he was going to leave, to put him in the draft because they had committed to taking him in the Pre-Season Draft.

“Whoever was first had already committed to a player and, from memory, it was going to give us the first live pick in the pre-season draft by doing that. We picked up Michael Hibberd, who went on to be an All-Australian player.

“You could basically say we let Bachar go off the list and brought Michael Hibberd onto the list at the time, so that’s how we rationalised it … We wanted to force their hand.”

Hibberd himself eventually left for pastures anew, signing with the Demons in 2017.