Jason Winderlich boots a big goal on Anzac Day last year.

Jason Winderlich boots a big goal on Anzac Day last year. Photo: Joe Armao

The 2014 list of AFL retirees has had a surprising name added to it, with Essendon's Jason Winderlich announcing his imminent departure from the game after realising his battered body wouldn't cope with a 13th season.

The 29-year-old, who will retire at the end of the season, had a clause in his one-year contract triggering an extension into 2015 and the Bombers were keen to have him play on after his good form in a run-with role in defence this year.

But with 123 games, a serious back injury, a knee reconstruction and a raft of hamstring and soft-tissue injuries behind him, Winderlich has chosen his moment.

"I’ve enjoyed every single minute during my time here at Essendon," he told the club website. "To be drafted to the club you supported as a kid was a dream come true.

"I would have been honoured to play the one game, so to pull on the jumper for 12 years has been an absolute privilege.

"I’m certainly going to miss the banter around the club and playing alongside a great group of blokes, but I’ve got a young family and I have to think about my long-term future and I think it’s fair to say the body probably didn’t have another full pre-season in it."

Coach Mark Thompson said that to forge the career he had in the face of so many physical challenges was "an incredible achievement".

"There's always a sense of excitement whenever Licka has the ball in his hands," Thompson said. "He's a smart player and his blistering speed allowed him to change the momentum of a game.

"Over the later part of his career he's been a great leader and mentor for the younger players and he will be missed, there's no doubt about that."

Winderlich made his debut in round seven, 2003 and has kicked 78 goals.