Essendon veteran midfielder Brent Stanton has announced his retirement following 255 games for the Bombers after making his debut in round one, 2004 against Port Adelaide.

The 31-year-old has been one of the Bombers' most consistent performers since making his debut, with 2017 marking the one season in which he hasn't played at least 15 senior games.

“This was a decision I have been wrestling with for some time, but I’m glad I had the opportunity to come back and play one more season for the footy Club that’s been such a huge part of my life,” Stanton told

“I’m extremely grateful the Club gave me an opportunity to play at the elite level, and I leave with plenty of fond memories, a great group of mates and 255 games alongside my name.

“I’ve learnt a lot about myself over the course of this season. And while I haven’t played as much senior football as I would have liked, I’ve really enjoyed my time guiding and mentoring the young players in the VFL this season.

“I’ve always had a passion for coaching, and I know look forward to exploring the opportunity to pursue a career.

“I’d like to thank all my teammates, coaches and Essendon staff for their support, guidance and friendship over the journey. I’s like to thank my close mate and manager Adam Ramanauskas, as well as Susan Harper at TLA for help and support over the past five years. Thanks also to the Club’s members and supporters for your passion and commitment.

“Finally, and most importantly, to my Mum and Dad, brother, two sisters and my partner Sonja and my sons, Connor and Aiden, thank-you for giving me the opportunity to do what I love. Without you I would never have been able to achieve my childhood dream.”

Essendon coach John Worsfold thanked Stanton for his services, and said his attitude and experience around the club was important for the younger players.

“Brent is a highly respected member of the playing group with a great football mind, and to play 255 senior games of football is a fantastic achievement, which takes enormous sacrifice and resilience,” Worsfold told the club's website.

“Stants’ work ethic and attitude is super impressive, and despite announcing his retirement today, I know he is extremely driven to see the AFL and VFL sides achieve the success we all hope they can this season.

“He is a fantastic role model for our young players to look up to. I know he has had a huge impact on the VFL players this season, and really enjoyed his time mentoring them.

“I have no doubt that if he applies the same drive and work ethic he will give himself the best chance of carving out a successful career in coaching.”