PERTH, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 11: Taylor Walker of the Crows celebrates after scoring a goal during the 2019 AFL round 21 match between the West Coast Eagles and the Adelaide Crows at Optus Stadium on August 11, 2019 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

On Wednesday afternoon, Adelaide’s Taylor Walker announced he would be stepping down as co-captain of the club, allowing Rory Sloane to take full-time duties.

The robust key forward was appointed as captain back in 2015 by the late Phil Walsh, with the promotion met with wide-scale approval from Crows fans.

Fast-forward four years and now Walker’s career is at a crossroads. The Broken Hill-product has copped criticism for his performances and lack of leadership from analysts and fans alike, with many calling for him to be dropped during the past season.

After leading the Crows to the Grand Final in 2017, how has it gone so wrong for one of the club’s former cult heroes?

The Grand Final is likely the best place to start, with Walker failing to make an impact and then drawing the ire of onlookers after a brief concession speech.

The club then dealt with the loss of intercept defender Jake Lever to Melbourne, with Walker publicly voicing his disappointment with the youngster’s defection.

The turmoil didn’t stop there for Adelaide however, with the reported “cult-like” pre-season training camp making headlines throughout 2018, followed by an injury-crisis which left the Crows languishing in 12th spot at season’s end.

Walker battled with foot and hamstring injuries throughout the year, only managing 14 games and kicking just 26 goals, his lowest tally since his injury-interrupted 2013 season.

The 29-year-old played every game this year, booting 43 goals, but after the club failed to make finals for the second-straight season with one of the most experienced lists in the league, questions have been asked over Walker’s ability.

The decision from ‘Tex’ to step down was not one he took lightly, but it was one that needed to happen.

“It has been a great privilege to lead this Club for the last five years, through some great times and some very sad and challenging times,” he said in an open letter to fans.

“These times have made me realise what’s really important in my life – family, mateship and making the most of the time we have in the game we all love.

“I have made the decision to stand down so I can focus on enjoying my footy and spending time with my family.”

Walker is a far cry from his 63-goal 2012 season, where he finished second in the Coleman and was primed to become of of the game’s leading key forwards, but he should take solace in the performances of cross-town rival Travis Boak this year.

Boak held the Port Adelaide captaincy for six years before relinquishing his position to Tom Jonas and Ollie Wines this season and enjoyed a dominant season free from the spotlight.

The 31-year-old finished the year with career-bests in disposals (30.3), clearances (7.0) and contested possessions (14.7) and is the leading candidate to win the club’s best-and-fairest award.

At 29, Walker has plenty of time and could follow Boak in setting career-bests, but with the likes Darcy Fogarty and Elliot Himmelberg coming through the ranks, the time could be right for Walker to play a supporting role in the forward line as the Crows’ young cast look to take over.