AFL star Bailey Smith has chosen to take an indefinite leave of absence from the sport for personal reasons.
The Western Bulldogs said the midfielder, 21, who played a starring role as his team reached the Grand Final last season, has the full support of his club.
Why Smith, who hasn’t missed a game in his first three seasons in the league, has stepped aside effective immediately is unknown.
‘We remain in close contact with Bailey, and we respect and understand his need to spend some time away from the club at the moment,’ Bulldogs football boss Chris Grant said, according to The Herald Sun.
‘We are comfortable to afford Bailey the time he needs. ‘We’ll support him throughout, and he’ll return when he is ready.
‘Bailey has maintained an extremely high level of physical conditioning throughout his entire career, and we’re looking forward to reintegrating him into the program at the appropriate time.’
AFL star Bailey Smith (pictured) has opted to take an indefinite break from the sport, effective immediately
During an October podcast, Smith spoke out about the darker side of his meteoric rise to fame. The Western Bulldogs star said that was bizarrely offered ‘$50,000’ to sleep with a man he’d never met after the stranger got hold of his phone number
The dynamic midfielder, 21, was a key figure as the Western Bulldogs marched to the AFL Grand Final this year. He is pictured with influencer Cartia Mallan
Smith was selected seventh overall in the 2018 AFL Draft, and quickly became a cult hero due to his chiselled looks and iconic mullet hairstyle.
He has 355,000 Instagram followers – and has previously expressed the difficulties that accompany life in the spotlight.
Smith’s leave of absence comes after he told the Common Chaos podcast in October there were mental health challenges which came with his overnight fame.
He also confirmed he has suffered panic attacks from an early age.
‘I started taking medication, that’s something I didn’t do for such a long time because I didn’t want to be weak,’ Bailey told hosts Cartia Mallan and Ashton Wood.
‘I just had this weird thing in my head where I wanted to do it myself and it’d be so much more rewarding if I get through it and I don’t need medication.’
Bailey added: ‘I bit the bullet and understood and accepted that I wasn’t right at the time, I wasn’t well.’
‘It opened up so many doors for me, in terms of school, my education went through the roof and then football.’
During the revealing interview, he also spoke out about the darker side of his meteoric rise to fame.
Bailey said he was bizarrely offered ‘$50,000’ to sleep with a man he’d never met after the stranger got hold of his phone number.
The crude offer came just weeks after Bailey had to debunk a fake nude photograph of himself that went viral on the day of the AFL grand final.
‘I stopped looking at (my DMs)…. I’m even getting these now – I don’t know how they got my number,’ he said.
Western Bulldogs AFL star Bailey Smith has in the past admitted he struggles with some aspects of fame
Bailey Smith has also confirmed a fake nude photo of him was leaked online (pictured)
The supremely toned midfielder was surrounded by female fans after the Bulldogs played in this year’s AFL grand final
‘Sends a screenshot of his bank account – $50,000 to sleep with this person. It doesn’t stop.’
He then spoke about the fake nude photo leak, which he proved had been doctored after posting the original to his Facebook account.
‘There was a fake nude of me that got shared around Australia,’ he added. ‘This was like the day of the grand final, the biggest game of my life, and the boys showed me.
‘They knew it was photoshopped… it was weird. It got sent around to everyone while I was playing and then I addressed it after.’