Lade grew up playing football for Western Districts Football Club on Kangaroo Island, Australia, (his birthplace) where his father was coaching the A grade side. At the age of 8 Lade moved to the Wisanger Football Club where he played the remainder of his football until he turned 16. Able to play as both a relieving ruckman and forward, Lade played for South Australian National Football League (SANFL) club South Adelaide before his recruitment by Port Adelaide in the lead up to their inaugural season in the AFL in 1997. Lade made his senior AFL debut for Port Adelaide in Round 1, 1997, which was also Port Adelaide's debut AFL match.
Lade missed just one game in his first three years before he suffered a serious leg injury in Round 2 of 2000 which sidelined him for the rest of the season and also missed the entire 2001 AFL season after re-injuring it. But he recovered from the injuries to become one of the best ruckmen in the league.
After ending his 234-game AFL career in 2009, Lade immediately joined Richmond Football Club to become the ruck coach joining former Port Adelaide teammate Damien Hardwick, Richmond's senior coach. As of the 2014 season he is the midfield stoppage coach.