DEMONS’ legend David Neitz grew up in Noble Park and attended the now defunct Keysborough Technical School, before etching his name as one of the greatest players ever to pull on the red and blue guernsey.

“I spent time at Noble Park and made the switch across to Parkmore at the start of high school because all my mates played there,” he said.

“The family home was in Noble Park and I grew up in and around there. ‘Keysy’ Tech was a bit of a tough school. We had a few characters and things at the school and the blokes I hung around with were all footy guys.”

Neitz is a product of the AFL’s ‘zone system’, which gave clubs a geographical area where it had first choice of players who lived there.

“I was a Saints supporter and we were right on the border of Melbourne and St Kilda’s zone. I was bugging mum and dad to move across the road, but I’m glad it worked out this way,” the former Melbourne captain said.

Neitz was in the Melbourne system at 15 and was destined to become a favourite son, with his burly frame and infectious attitude.

“Really, it all started out at Wachter Reserve [Parkmore’s home ground]. We played our footy there and most of my mates had their 21st birthday parties in the hall. I had my 21st at Springvale Reserve [Newcomen Road].”

While he’s since moved to Elwood, Neitz’s grandparents still live in Doveton, so “I still get around the area a bit”.

The 33 year old brought forward his planned retirement last week after consulting two neurosurgeons over his continuing neck injury.

He was left in no doubt it was time to call a premature end to his illustrious career.

He retires as the Demons’ heart and soul and has played more games (306) and kicked more goals (631) than any other for his club. He said those statistics might “give me some ammunition when I’m having a beer with the boys in a few years’ time”, but he would trade it all for a premiership medallion.

“At the end of the day, you want to experience that team success and obviously it’s one of those things I’ll never be able to experience _ that taste of premiership success.

“I played in a grand final my first year as captain of the club and the build-up and the emotions, the highs and lows were amazing.”

Neitz won’t abandon the struggling Dees, as he is set to become an adviser and plans to build on a burgeoning communications career.