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This time it's for real: Sun retires after last year's false finish

Michael Rischitelli with wife Jo and children Lia and Kai after announcing his retirement - AFL,Gold Coast Suns,Michael Rischitelli,Retirements,Delistings
Michael Rischitelli with wife Jo and children Lia and Kai after announcing his retirement

HE FAMOUSLY had to deny calling time on his career last year, but on Tuesday Gold Coast defender Michael Rischitelli announced his retirement from the game.

Last year's Brownlow Medal coverage included Rischitelli in the list of retiring players for 2018, with the player taking a cheeky swipe at broadcaster Channel Seven about the gaffe.

This time news of his retirment is for real.

 

Only one player in AFL history has played as many seasons in Queensland as Rischitelli - and that's Brisbane champion Simon Black.

Rischitelli will play the 243rd and final game of his career on Saturday night against Greater Western Sydney.

The Gold Coast veteran can be proud of so much in his 16-season journey, but perhaps his durability and ruthless pursuit to get the most out of himself are at the top of the list.

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He was selected by Brisbane with the 61st pick of the 2003 NAB AFL National Draft, a skinny kid from Melbourne walking into a champion club that had just won three straight flags. 

Rischitelli played seven seasons with the Lions and nine with the Suns, seeing just about everything in Queensland over that time.

"All I ever wanted to do was play footy. I had a ball in my hand every day, it didn't matter where I was," he said at a media conference in front of Suns players and staff.

"It's been an amazing ride.

Michael Rischitelli faces teammates and media on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

"I'm happy with what I've been able to achieve and I've left nothing in the tank. 

"I've squeezed out everything I can.

"I'm one of the lucky ones to be involved for so long."

So long that only Black – one of the game's most decorated players with three premierships, a Brownlow Medal and Norm Smith Medal – played as many seasons north of the Tweed.

Say farewell: Michael Rischitelli with teammates and family. Picture: Getty Images

Rischitelli's initial Lions teammates Michael Voss, Jonathan Brown, Nigel Lappin and Shaun Hart all played 15 seasons in Queensland, as did Marcus Ashcroft, who was his long-time football manager at Gold Coast.

"I was lucky when I started at the Lions, I was surrounded by, you could argue, the best team since the AFL started.

"You're 17 and watching the game at home and all of a sudden you walk into an AFL club and the first person you see is Vossy, then browny rolls in, then there's the Scott boys, and Lappo and Blacky.

"(I was) Pretty blessed to be around superstars and incredible people and characters with work ethic.

Michael Voss speaks as Michael Rischitelli and Simon Black listen back in 2009. Picture: AFL Photos

"I got an idea of how to become AFL-ready. I made sure I took (the opportunity) with both hands and I did whatever I needed to to get me to where I am today."

Rischitelli was part of Brisbane's last finals campaign in 2009 and won a best and fairest the following year, giving an emotional winner's speech knowing he was headed to the start-up Suns. 

He's helped guide Gold Coast through some dark times, a strong internal voice in a largely inexperienced and quiet group.

"I don't have any regrets at all, about anything.

"To play 240-plus, be involved in two great clubs is all I can ask for.

"I just want to be remembered as someone that's given his all every time and never wanted to let teammates down.

"I'll make sure the first (pre-season) session these boys start I'll be there with a six-pack for sure."