BULLDOGS forward Corey Payne had been holding onto a secret before Christmas.
"I've had it in the back of my mind since then," the St Johns Park local said.
When Payne spoke with Bulldogs chief executive Todd Greenberg he was told to "have a good think about it".
So he dropped the bombshell last week.
"I decided that now was the right time to retire," Payne said.
"I've got my commitments off field and I just wouldn't be able to give the time and dedication required to the club and my teammates. I just don't want to let anyone down."
The news of the end of the 28-year-old's footy career came as a shock to most of his teammates.
"A number of them were genuinely shocked but some understood my commitments off field so they were supportive of my decision," he said.
Payne himself didn't think he would retire so early.
"When I was 18 or 19 years old I thought I'd play the game forever," he said.
"But the more I talk about it, the answer is clear.
"Since then I've developed into a different person with different goals and ambitions.
"Now I'm hungry for them and it's time to commence this next chapter of my life."
Payne wants to finish a masters degree at Sydney University and complete his Churchill Fellowship.
He also has to carry out the responsibilities of being NSW Young Australian of the Year. The title recognises his work with disadvantaged youth.
Next year he plans further postgraduate business studies in Europe.
"Hopefully this path will be just as rewarding as footy has been for me," he said.