Retiring West Coast defender Eric Mackenzie has revealed his foot injuries are still causing him constant pain and there is no guarantee it will ever heal completely.
A tearful Mackenzie announced his AFL retirement on Wednesday, saying it's time to put his health before football.
The 30-year-old has a rare condition known as Hallux rigidus that causes stiffness and inflammation in his big toes.
Surgery last October failed to fix the problem and follow-up scans on Friday showed there had been no improvement over the past 12 weeks.
Mackenzie's career finishes on 147 games - three games short of earning life membership.
But he knows the decision to retire is the right one.
"The feet have been giving me a lot of grief. I've been in pain for the last two years," an emotional Mackenzie said as he was watched on by his teammates on Wednesday.
"They hurt, not just playing football, but day to day life.
"Hopefully not being on my feet all day, every day, will give them a chance to heal.
"I'd love to be able to run around with family later in life."
Mackenzie has the option to fuse the toes together, but has no immediate plans to undergo the surgery.
"There's no guarantees it will heal completely. It's something I'm going to have to deal with going forward, being able to manage the pain," he said of the injury.
Mackenzie was rated as one of the AFL's best key defenders during his 2014 campaign when he won the club's best and fairest award and was nominated in the extended All-Australian squad.
But he has managed just 26 games since then with a torn ACL and the foot injuries robbing him of his prime.
Mackenzie's finest moment came in last year's elimination final win over Port Adelaide when his decision to slam into a point post instead of rushing a behind helped West Coast win the game.
"I didn't want that to be my last act on a footy field, but it kind of ended up that was the way it was," Mackenzie said.
"It's something I can look back on with a lot of pride.
"I'd like to think that's how I'll be remembered - just doing what I could do for the team."
Eagles coach Adam Simpson lavished praise on Mackenzie, saying the defender would be sorely missed.
"Tall or small, it didn't matter," Simpson said of Mackenzie's ability to shut down star forwards.
"It was just, 'Who's the best player? Ezy, can you just take care of it?' And then we'll worry about the rest of the team'."
Best and Fairest: 2014
Australian Associated Press