Tuesday 12 December 2017 / 04:20 AM

RIEWOLDT TO RETIRE AT SEASON’S END

Via Saints Media

St Kilda champion Nick Riewoldt today announced the 2017 season would be his last, bringing to an end one of the most decorated careers in the club’s history.

Riewoldt informed the playing group today of his decision, while vowing to do everything he can to help lift the Saints into the club’s first finals appearance since 2011.

Currently sitting on 333 games and 714 goals, the key forward is a six-time winner of the Trevor Barker Award, a five-time All Australian, St Kilda’s longest serving captain (220 games), and by any measure one of the club’s greatest ever players.

The 34-year-old said it had been a privilege to represent St Kilda Football Club for the past 17 years and thanked the club’s loyal supporters.

“When it’s all melted down what we are left with is reality. I’ve been in a hugely privileged position playing a sport I love for a club that I love for 17 years,” he said.

“Reaching this decision hasn’t been a ‘fall off the cliff’ type epiphany, rather a gradual acceptance and acknowledgement that it’s time to attack the next phase of my life. I could not be more convinced that the time is right to retire.

“St Kilda Football Club has been my home for half of my life, I’ve given my absolute all throughout that period, and I would like to thank them for affording me the opportunity to represent them. It has been an incredible honour and you have consistently brought out the absolute best in me.

“To my former and current teammates and coaches, St Kilda staff, members and fans, thank you for your amazing loyalty and support through both the best, and most challenging years of my life.

“Thank you to my friends and family, Mum, Dad, Alex and Maddie, for sharing every part of this ride with me and for your unconditional love.

“Catherine, James and Will, thank you for your support and sacrifice and for making the next chapter of my life so exciting to think about.”

Coach Alan Richardson said Riewoldt would leave an incredible mark on St Kilda Football Club.

“For Saints members and fans, Nick has been the type of player that made them proud to support the club,” Richardson said.

“His loyalty and commitment to St Kilda has meant everything to them and I know they will be saddened by today’s news.”

Behind the scenes, Richardson described Riewoldt as a leader of the highest calibre.

“I haven’t seen a better leader in my time in football,” Richardson said.

“His preparation and professionalism is unrivalled in the AFL and the standards he drives within our group will remain with his current teammates until their careers are over.

“Nick’s leadership at the club when we were very much in a rebuilding phase was testament to his character and his understanding of how to get the best out of those around him.

“His ability to overcome adversity, not only to get himself up for matches but to push as hard as he does on game-day to outlast an opponent, will be the legacy he leaves this group.

“The strength he displayed when Maddie passed away, and the work he and his family have done since to continue her fight, is again a reflection of the person he is.”

Richardson said Riewoldt had continually demonstrated his willingness to put the team and club first.

“At the start of last year we spoke about our desire for him to move up into the midfield to assist in the development of our playing group. Despite being one of the premier forwards in the game, he took on the challenge with the qualities we have come to expect and enjoyed another standout season,” he said.

“In a similar vein this season he handed over the captaincy to Jarryn Geary, knowing the importance of others stepping up into those roles.

“His individual achievements are well documented but it is his capacity to help others improve that his teammates and coaches will remember him for.”

Born in Hobart, Riewoldt was recruited from Broadbeach and Southport (Queensland), joining the Saints with the number one pick in 2000 AFL Draft.

After making his debut in Round 15 2001, he went on to win the AFL Rising Star Award and his first Trevor Barker Medal in 2002.

The Leigh Matthews Medal (AFLPA MVP) and a second Trevor Barker Award followed in 2004, which was also the first year he was named in the All-Australian team.

Further All-Australian honours followed in 2006, 2008, 2009 as captain and 2014, while another four Trevor Barker Awards were added in 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2014.

Riewoldt was first named St Kilda captain in 2005 as part of the club’s rotating leadership policy, before assuming the co-captaincy alongside Luke Ball and Lenny Hayes in 2007. In 2008 he was named the sole skipper, holding the position until the end of 2016.

As one of the game’s premier forwards, taking the most marks in AFL / VFL history, Riewoldt finished as the Saints’ leading goalkicker on four occasions, while he was an integral part of the club’s three grand final appearances in 2009 and 2010.

To date he has been awarded 149 career Brownlow votes, including 19 in 2016.

In addition to his decorated playing career, Riewoldt has made a considerable impact off the field as an ambassador for St Kilda Football Club and the game more broadly.

Following the tragic passing of his sister Maddie in February 2015, Riewoldt joined his family in creating Maddie Riewoldt’s Vision to help find a cure for bone marrow failure syndromes.

Nick and the Riewoldt family created Maddie’s Match as a major fundraiser for Maddie’s Vision. Maddie’s Match was held for the first time in 2015, and again this year in Round 16 against Richmond.

Nick Riewoldt career highlights

  • Longest serving captain in the club’s history – 220 games (2005, 2007-2016)
  • Trevor Barker Award: 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2014
  • All-Australian Team: 204, 2006, 2008, 2009 (captain), 2014
  • Leigh Matthews Trophy (AFLPA MVP): 2004
  • St Kilda Leading Goalkicker 2008, 2009, 2013, 2014
  • AFL Rising Star: 2002
  • 149 Brownlow votes
  • Pre-season premierships: 2004, 2008
  • Most marks in AFL/VFL history (currently on 2,922)
  • Represented Australia on four separate occasions

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