James Kelly (left) has ended his playing career.
James Kelly (left) has ended his playing career. RICHARD WAINWRIGHT

Essendon has put retiring Kelly 'in a better place'

WHEN James Kelly was chaired off in Geelong colours back in 2015, there was no way he thought he'd end up back on a footy field, let alone in a rival's colours.

But the three-time premiership player is very glad he took the call from Essendon coach John Worsfold when the Bombers needed top up players last season.

And after 37 games in the red and black, he decided it was best for the team if he retired at the end of the season.

"I feel really fortunate that I've been able to come this far in my career and play for two really great clubs,” Kelly said.

"(I) had a lot of success at one and I'm eternally grateful for that, that I've been able to experience the highs and lows of footy.

"I've been a part of two really unique groups or people and players. Two clubs that have been really good for me in different respects.

"I finished my career at Geelong with a lot of success and I was pretty worn out and tired and I came here and the Essendon footy club sort of reignited my passion for the game and that was directly related to Woosha and the guys around me.

"... This club has certainly put me in a much better place finishing my career now and I feel really, really grateful for that.”

Kelly said he thought about playing on next season, but he put the club first.

"I was probably 50-50 and I think the club was 50-50 as well,” he said.

"Where I got to was I really felt it wasn't the best thing for the club for me to keep playing. I'm sure I could have.

"We genuinely got there mutually. I felt like if the club wanted me to and needed me to, I certainly could, but at the end of the day if I finish my career with 330 games not 310, that does nothing for the footy club, so the best thing is just to finish now and hand it over to other guys who need the opportunity to play.”

Kelly said he was "here to play finals” one last time before transitioning into coaching next year.

"I will coach, hopefully I can get a job somewhere,” he said.

"I feel like that's something I really want to do and need to do and I feel like I can add some value.”