Rory Thompson has announced his retirement from AFL football after 106 games and 12 AFL seasons with the Gold Coast SUNS.

The foundation SUN is the longest-serving player in club history, having been with the SUNS since the 2009 TAC Cup season as an 18-year-old, but will retire due to persistent knee injuries in recent years.

Thompson was a local zone selection for the club and was one of only four players from the Gold Coast region selected for the inaugural 2011 SUNS squad.

A Southport Sharks junior, Thompson has had a disruptive AFL career with a pair of ACL injuries sidelining the key defender for three seasons.

The 31-year-old spoke of his love for the club after his 14-year football career.

“It’s been such a long journey with so many ups and downs and wonderful people that come into your life,” Thompson said.

“I’m super grateful to the SUNS for giving me that opportunity so many years ago as a young kid and having stuck with me all this time, it’s pretty hard to put into words what that means to me.

“I’ve obviously had such a long career with the SUNS and have had my fair share of injuries including some really significant ones.

“Towards the end of last year it was getting hard to back up games and keep my body moving and it just felt like the right time for me and my family to move on to the next chapter of our lives.

“Looking back I was a kid that didn’t think I would get drafted, so to go to where I am now after 14 years, I’m very proud of myself and the work I’ve put in and very grateful to the people that have helped me get this far.”

After making his AFL debut in Round 16, 2011, Thompson went on to have a breakout season in 2013, playing 21 games and finishing a career-best fourth in the SUNS Club Champion that year, along with the Most Improved Player and Most Professional awards.

GC SUNS General Manager of Football Performance Wayne Campbell said Thompson would leave a lasting legacy on the Gold Coast SUNS.

“Rory is one of the most respected players at the club and should be proud of everything he has achieved in his AFL career,” Campbell said.

“He’s faced a lot of adversity with injury in his time at the SUNS, but his commitment and determination to bounce back from every setback can only be admired.

“On behalf of the entire football club, I’d like to thank him for everything he has given the Gold Coast SUNS over the last 14 years.

“Rory will continue to have a role with the club and we look forward to his involvement with the SUNS going forward.”

Thompson made an inspirational comeback to AFL football in Round 8 this season after 1379 days out of the game.