FOUR-time premiership star Cyril Rioli has decided to call time on his AFL career, effective immediately.
The 28-year-old informed his Hawthorn teammates of his decision on Wednesday morning.
Rioli has spent the last month in Darwin after being granted indefinite leave by the club for personal reasons.
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It was the second period of personal leave granted to Rioli in the past 12 months. He took some time at the end of last year to spend time with his father – who had suffered a heart attack several months earlier.
He returned to pre-season training at the start of February and played a few opening games but has been out since round four after initially suffering a medial ligament strain in his knee.
Rioli and the club had been in talks about his future in recent weeks with the star still contracted for another two seasons.
“The decision to retire from football is something that I have thought long and hard about over the past 12 months. I’ve weighed everything up and I am confident the decision I’ve made is the right one for me and my family,” Rioli said in a statement.
“Football has been my life but it’s always been difficult being away from home. Now is the right time to go home and spend more time with friends and family.
“I love the Hawthorn Football Club and I cannot thank them enough for the opportunities they’ve given me and the way they’ve embraced me and my family over the past 11 years.
“I can walk away from the game having achieved everything I could have ever dreamed of and I’m forever grateful for the opportunities I have received.
“I’d like to thank the Hawthorn fans for all their support over the years, it has been an honour to play in front of you each week.
“I’d also like to thank my manager, Adam Ramanauskas from TLA Worldwide, for all the support he has have given my family and I throughout my career.
“Lastly, thank you to my wife Shannyn and all my family, whose support and sacrifice has made it possible for me to live out my childhood dream.
“I’ll always be a Hawthorn person and I look forward to seeing what the boys can achieve over the rest of the year and beyond.”
Hawthorn Coach Alastair Clarkson paid tribute to Rioli as one of the most influential players our game has ever seen.
“Cyril has been an outstanding servant of this football club for a long period of time and there have been very few players that have brought as much excitement to the game,” Clarkson said.
“His ability to influence a contest with a minimal amount of disposals is like no player I have ever seen and that’s why the whole footy world loves watching him play.
“Cyril came into our club as an 18-year-old kid and leaves an integral part of the fabric of the brown and gold family and the history of our game.
“I’d like to thank Cyril, Shannyn and the broader Rioli and Long families for their outstanding contribution to our club and wish them all the best for the next chapter of their lives.”