HOBART, AUSTRALIA - JULY 07: Ben Cunnington of the Kangaroos celebrates a goal kicked by Cameron Zurhaar of the Kangaroos during the 2019 AFL round 16 match between the North Melbourne Kangaroos and the St Kilda at Blundstone Arena ground on July 07, 2019 in Hobart, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Veteran North Melbourne midfielder Ben Cunnington has announced his retirement from the AFL after 18 seasons.

The 32-year-old has played 237 games over the course of his Arden Street tenure since being drafted fifth overall at the 2005 National Draft.

Cunnington, who revealed his news to teammates on Tuesday, will appear in his final game this weekend when the Kangaroos play the Bombers at Marvel Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

"I couldn't be more proud of what I've achieved on and off the field in the 14 years at this level," Cunnington said on Tuesday.

"From the moment the club drafted me, it was a dream come true as we were surrounded by interstate clubs on draft night. Then to walk into a club that suited my personality, and allowed me to be myself, I couldn't have asked for a better recipe to get the best out of myself.

"I'm proud and grateful of what I've overcome in the past few years and for the club to give me the best chance and opportunity to play AFL footy again.

"But I felt I lost my hunger once I returned, my perspective in life was too great. Then when I fell out of the senior team, I struggled to have the motivation or drive to get back in.

"That's when I knew it wasn't fair on myself or you blokes that I continued on next year without being able to give my 100 per cent effort, especially when there are hungry young kids out there that would do anything for the opportunity and to help this team get better.

"To the club, thank you for the opportunity and journey for me to live out my childhood dream. It didn't matter who was in charge at the time, but the club has always had me and my family's best interest at heart on and off the field. It's something I will never forget.

"This club means the world to me as I've almost spent half my life here. The learnings, the memories and the relationships I've made will last a lifetime."

The stalwart Shinboner battled non-football-related health issues throughout his decorated career, admired for his resilience in returning to the field late last season following an emotional cancer battle.

North Melbourne GM of football Todd Viney expressed his gratitude to Cunnington on Tuesday.

"As we know, Ben is a man of very few words but when he speaks, his teammates listen," Viney said.

"He won the respect of the entire footy community when he came back from his cancer treatment last year and he has only added to that legacy this year.

"As a two-time Syd Barker medallist, he'll go down as one of the greatest and most-loved players in the club's history.

"It's sad to see him go but it goes without saying that Ben, Belinda, Xavier, Stella and Kobe are welcome at the club any time."

Cunnington's final outing, North Melbourne's meeting with Essendon, is fixtured for 1:45 PM (AEST) this Saturday.