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Bombers star Watson joins growing list of retiring greats

Jobe Watson will retire from the AFL as a decorated champion whose career is forever marked by Essendon's supplements disaster.

The 32-year-old on Wednesday confirmed he would hang up his boots at the end of his 14th season.

A dual All-Australian, three-time club champion and former captain who led the club through its darkest chapter, Watson will depart as one of Essendon's most beloved sons.

But it's unlikely he will ever evade the shadow cast over his career by the Bombers' ruinous 2012 supplements program.

Watson was one of 34 past and present Essendon players ordered to serve a 12-month doping ban last year.

He was also stripped of his 2012 Brownlow Medal, and the turmoil left him close to walking away from the game.

While content with his career overall, Watson admitted the saga had left a bitter taste in his mouth.

"I guess it's a little bit like you're in a relationship and your partner cheats on you or something like that," he said.

"You might get back together but you probably don't love her the same way.

"That's a little bit how I feel about it. I love the game but it doesn't feel the same to me as what it did."

Watson said being banned from playing last year, along with his teammates, had hurt more than being stripped of the Brownlow.

"The medal didn't really matter to me, it wasn't important," he said.

"I think the people whose opinion I value and who know me the best, they haven't changed because I had to hand back the Brownlow Medal."

Watson will play out the remainder of the season - as well as any potential finals campaign - with coach John Worsfold emphasising that he remained in their best 22.

The pair had been in ongoing talks for the past month but Watson opted to bring his decision forward after struggling during the Bombers' win over Carlton on Saturday.

The Bombers had rested Watson twice already this season, and he admitted he had struggled to keep up with the pace of the game.

Watson planned to spend more time in New York, where he famously worked as a barista during his year off.

He will join one of the most illustrious retirement classes in recent memory with Luke Hodge, Sam Mitchell, Nick Riewoldt, Matt Priddis and Matthew Boyd all set to finish their careers this season.

JOBE WATSON CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
* Recruited by Essendon as a father-son selection (son of Tim Watson) with the No.40 selection in the 2002 national draft
* AFL debut round 13, 2003 vs Geelong
* 217 senior games for Essendon (112 goals)
* Three-time club best and fairest
* Two-time All-Australian
* Essendon captain 2010-2015
* AFL Players' Association best captain award 2012
* International rules player 2014
*Yiooken Award, 2012