RETIRED Western Bulldog Daniel Giansiracusa learnt plenty in 265 AFL matches, including that there aren't always fairytales in football.
The respected veteran fell agonisingly short of a triumphant end to his outstanding career when his beloved red, white and blue went down by six points to Greater Western Sydney at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
But the 32-year-old, who played in the Dogs' three preliminary finals defeats between 2008-10, knows disappointment is a part of the game.
"It was disappointing, wasn't it? But, as you said, there's no fairytales in footy, I've learnt that in 15 years for sure," Giansiracusa said post-match.
"Unfortunate, but as Macca (coach Brendan McCartney) said we've got to get better and we will.
"We're confident we will as a footy club and we're excited about where we're heading."
Giansiracusa, who will remain at the Whitten Oval as an assistant coach next season, didn't blame young forward Jake Stringer for a dropped mark in the final minute that created a turnover and led to the Giants' match-winning goal to Devon Smith.
"I'm not going to talk about errors late in the game, I was pretty poor in areas," he said.
"I'll give him a cuddle tonight and we'll work together to get better."
Indeed, the veteran missed two shots at goal in a frenetic final term – one he tugged left from a set shot and another he kicked out on the full under pressure near the boundary line.
But Giansiracusa was a major reason the Dogs hit the front by two points at the final change after trailing by 26 at the main break.
The proud Dog was inspirational in the third term, booting one of his two goals for the match.
Giansiracusa, who gathered 20 touches, entered the arena to a guard of honour and was recognised alongside retiring ex-Geelong defender Josh Hunt after the final siren.
"He's (Hunt) been a fantastic player and I really liked the fact that I could walk off with him," he said.
"It's emotional. I've been here for so long, I've loved every minute of it. So I just tried to soak it in as much as I could, but as I said, I was pretty happy to walk off with Josh."
Few hold the stalwart in higher esteem than coach Brendan McCartney, who has identified a clear role for Giansiracusa among his coaching staff next season.
"There'll be some area coaching and he's got a special little knack of being able to work with players who just fall off the perch, they just fall out of the AFL team and we can't let them go through the cracks for three or four weeks," McCartney said.
"They've got to be picked up straight away and work with them. He's really good at that.
"He's got a great empathy for people, a care for people and he's got a happy knack for teaching the game well which will make him a really good coach."
Giansiracusa, who retires as the Dogs' ninth-longest serving player, said he is ready to move on from playing to coaching.
"Yeah, really excited. Can't wait. I'm excited where the footy club is going and can't wait. I've been preparing for three, four, five years," he said.
"As I said during the week, probably wasn't ready at the end of last year but I think you saw tonight I got caught a few times, and I'm ready to finish up.
"I've done everything I could."