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FEELING isolated from his family during Ramadan prompted Adam Saad's trade request from Gold Coast, with the devout Muslim insisting his decision had nothing to do with the Suns.
Saad was relieved to officially join Essendon on Monday after the Bombers sent a future second-round pick to Gold Coast.
The speedy defender played 48 games for the Suns and loved the club, which tried everything to support his religious beliefs.
But for three years Saad struggled being away from his family in Melbourne during the holy month of Ramadan – when he couldn't eat or drink from dawn to dusk – and it was time to return home.
"It got pretty tough when I was up there, I felt very isolated, coming from a massive family with 100 cousins and my immediate family as well," he told NAB AFL Trade Radio.
"I'm just very, very close to my family. That's the main reason I wanted to come home."
Saad's brother, Muhammad, briefly lived on the Gold Coast this year to try to support him but also struggled and returned to Victoria after six months.
Suns assistant coaches Dean Solomon and Matthew Primus also fasted with him but it eventually became too difficult.
"Ramadan is the holy month for the Muslims all around the world, it's a month we really look forward to," Saad said.
"When we do break fast … we can break fast as a family together with a lot of food on the table and we feast up. We see each other and we keep each other company.
"For me, I was breaking fast alone, waking up at 4-4.30 in the morning and not seeing anyone.
"It was very, very tough for me because I was up there for three years … it got to a point where I couldn't do that no more.
"The Gold Coast Suns were very, very supportive during that month. A lot of the players and a lot of the staff fasted and tried supporting me, which I was very grateful for.
"They embraced my culture and all my beliefs.
"Me wanting to come back home has got nothing to do with the footy club, because I love the footy club."
Saad, who was a Gold Coast rookie selection in 2014, was "really rapt" to join the Bombers well in advance of the trade deadline.
His move should free-up Rising Star winner Andy McGrath to move from the backline into midfield next season, and will add breakneck pace to the Dons' defence.
"Hopefully I can run and carry like I have been doing and locking down on my opponent," Saad said.
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