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Spangher swansong

Matt Spangher Highlights The fans know him as Spang. Matt Spangher played 24 games in the brown and gold including the 2014 Premiership win over his old side Sydney.

After eleven seasons, three clubs and 56 games Hawthorn premiership player Matt Spangher has announced his retirement from AFL football.

The 28-year-old was traded to Hawthorn from Sydney at the end of the 2012 season and has since become a cult figure amongst Hawks fans.

Spangher has battled injury most of his career and struggled with his body again in 2016, managing just one senior game.

But in 24 games for the Hawks, he has played in just one losing team and will leave the game a premiership player.

Having three times watched his teammates win a premiership, the journeyman won himself that elusive premiership medal in 2014 after an outstanding and career-best season.

The 27-year-old missed grand final selection while at West Coast (2006), the Swans (2012) and was selected as an emergency for the Hawks in 2013.

By his own admission he was too inexperienced to earn a place in 2006, but Spangher felt he was ripe for the opportunity with the Swans.

Despite playing the final five games of the 2011 season, he couldn't get a game the following year when the club famously beat the Hawks in the decider.

Fittingly, in another Hawks-Swans grand final, this time in 2014, Spangher helped sink the side that dealt him his most painful blow and claimed that elusive premiership medallion.

"The one at Sydney probably hurt the most and I always used it to drive me when I came across [to Waverley]," Spangher said after the 2014 premiership.

"My first year at the Eagles I was young, I thought it was just good to be part of the squad – I was never going to play that year.

"Last year I played a final, I was emergency - I at least helped the boys get there.

"At Sydney it was more my body that gave up on me and I honestly believe I was good enough to play in that side but I just couldn't get out there."

The three grand final misses Spangher endured prior to 2014 taught him one thing: watching teammates win flags was not easy. But Spangher has never been one to complain.

"You can't sit there and think 'woe is me', footy doesn't have time for those sorts of passengers.”

With his impressive head of hair, Spangher has become a clear favourite among Hawthorn's supporter base.

His hard-luck story of persistence has drawn footy fans and in his relatively short time in the brown and gold he has won the heart of many.

Read: Hawthorn finalises playing list for 2017

But Spangher's cult-hero reputation doesn't sit easily with the defender, although he appreciates its sentiment.

"I'm not that comfortable with it, it's not really who I am as a person," he said.

"But it's really flattering, the supporters are great across the board – it's been really flattering."

Spangher was delisted by the Hawks at the end of the 2016 season and officially announced his retirement today.

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs