INAUGURAL Gold Coast Suns player Michael Rischitelli has officially called time on his 16-year AFL career.
The former vice captain made the announcement on Tuesday morning.
The 33-year-old has played 42 games after making his debut as a 19-year-old in 2004, featuring for both the Gold Coast and the Brisbane Lions.
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Recruited by the Brisbane Lions with selection 61 in the 2003 NAB AFL Draft, Rischitelli played 111 games, including two finals appearances with the Lions and was crowned the club’s best and fairest player in 2010 before making the move down south.
He then played 131 games during his nine season on the Coast but struggled with injury in recent years.
In a statement, the Gold Coast Suns referred to Rischitelli as the “heart and soul of the young club” and wished him all the best for the future.
“Michael has been a fantastic leader for our young football club, a role model and father figure for players throughout his nine seasons and influential in driving standards on and off the field,” General Manager – Football Operations Jon Haines said.
“Often understated, Rischa has been relentless in his approach to help drive this club forward and his efforts cannot be underestimated.
“On behalf of the club, we thank Michael and his family for their contribution to the establishment of the Gold Coast SUNS. He has been an integral part of our history and will always be part of our future, we wish him all the best.”
Rischitelli reflected on his time in the game and the people that had the most influence on his career.
“I’ve loved every moment of my career, it’s been an incredible journey,” Rischitelli said.
“Throughout my 16 years, I’ve experienced some fantastic moments and a couple of extremely tough times, but I’ve enjoyed the ride.”
“There are many people I would like to thank for their support throughout, but I have to make mention of my wife Jo, and both our families, they’ve been unbelievable and I can’t thank them enough.”
Michael Rischitelli has called time on his incredible AFL career. Thank you for everything you have done in the red and gold, Rischa. #ThanksRischa ❤️💛
— Gold Coast Suns (@GoldCoastSUNS) August 19, 2019