Daniel Wells, one of the most sublime talents of his time, has announced his retirement.
The 34 year-old delivered his decision to his Collingwood team-mates and staff today in the company of his wife Ria and daughter Laudate.
Wells brought grace to AFL football fields for 17 years, a quality that made the very difficult appear effortless. Team mates at North Melbourne, where he played much of his career, and at Collingwood knew of his gifts firsthand and placed him in the highest company.
Wells played 258 games, kicked 166 goals and outlasted all of his 2002 draft class other than Carlton’s Kade Simpson, who remains the sole active player from the national draft of that year. Sydney’s Jarrad McVeigh retired at the end of the home and away season.
North Melbourne selected Wells, a West Australian, with the second selection in the 2002 draft after receiving the pick from Adelaide for Wayne Carey. He would play 243 matches in the royal blue and white stripes before crossing to Collingwood as an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2016 season.
A knee injury in his one game in 2019 – against Sydney at the SCG – ultimately brought him down. Few opponents could.
As the game over his 17 years became more complex, rushed and defensive, the ability Wells had to glide through an opening and finish with a beautifully weighted pass became something to anticipate and precious. It was easy to get nostalgic about the way a football sat in Wells’ hand or left his boot.
All who saw him play wondered at some point how he was able, often with a single possession, to simultaneously simplify the game and reveal so many of its possibilities.
He won two best and fairest awards at North and changed the manner of Collingwood’s play every time he took the field. It was not a coincidence that the Magpies won 11 of the 15 matches he played in black and white.
Wells will cease training immediately but intends to stay involved with the playing group for the duration of the finals campaign.
“I thank Collingwood, I thank North Melbourne and I thank the game,” Wells said.
“All of them have given me so much. The joy of playing, the great camaraderie, support in the tough times and care for me and my family.
“I couldn’t have asked for much more. I will miss football and I will always love it. ”