Essendon defender Matt Dea has today announced he will retire at the end of the Bombers’ 2019 campaign.

The 27-year-old informed his teammates of his decision on Monday morning. 

Dea played 31 games for Richmond before joining Essendon in 2016, going on to play 39 games in the red and black.

Hailing from Mildura, the widely respected Dea grew up playing for Clarendon College before being drafted to the Tigers in the 2009 national draft. The following year, the defender went on to make his debut for Richmond in round four.

Given an opportunity to join the Bombers in 2016, Dea made a quick impact on the playing group in his first year, with his contribution on and off the field earning him an additional two-year contract at the club. 

Awarded the Adam Ramanauskas Most Courageous Player Award at Essendon in 2016 and 2018, Dea was re-recruited to the Bombers in 2019 after being taken with pick No.17 in the rookie draft.

The versatile backman said the time was right to hang up the boots after 70 AFL games. 

“I want to acknowledge both the Essendon and Richmond Football Clubs for the opportunity to live out my dream of playing AFL. Thank you to my friends and family that have supported me through the highs and the lows across my 10 years in the system,” Dea said. 

“Although my journey at Essendon is coming to an end, I am excited for what the next chapter holds. 

“Essendon is in a strong position and I wish everyone at the Club the best of luck. I’m looking forward to watching what the Bombers can achieve over the next few years.”

Senior coach John Worsfold thanked Dea for his commitment to the club.

“Matt has been the ultimate clubman since arriving at Essendon. Not only is he a great leader, he is a wonderful person and has contributed significantly to our culture,” Worsfold said.

“Although Matt arrived in a challenging period for the club, he was able to provide tremendous leadership to his younger teammates and support their development. 

“On behalf of the club, I wish Matt all the best in the next chapter of his life.”