MARCHING OUT: His 17th season in the AFL will be Saint great Nick Riewoldt's last.
MARCHING OUT: His 17th season in the AFL will be Saint great Nick Riewoldt's last. Robert Cianflone

Retiring Riewoldt proud of career as a Saint, legend

ST KILDA legend Nick Riewoldt has announced he will retire at the end of this season.

The Saints called a media conference today at their Seaford headquarters, where Riewoldt and coach Alan Richardson confirmed the announcement.

"I couldn't be more convinced that the time is right for me to retire and step aside," Riewoldt said.

"I'm really proud that I'm doing so with a litre or two left in the tank rather than pulled up on the side of the road shouting for help."

Speculation had been rife this season about Riewoldt's playing future.

 

Riewoldt speaks at a media conference at the club
Riewoldt speaks at a media conference at the club JOE CASTRO

The 34-year-old said the decision to retire had been a "gradual acceptance" that the time was right, rather than an epiphany.

"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," Riewoldt said in a statement.

"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."

 

Riewoldt poses for photos with his wife Catherine, and sons James and Will
Riewoldt poses for photos with his wife Catherine, and sons James and Will JOE CASTRO

Riewoldt thanked both the club and his family for their support across his career.

"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," he said.

"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."

 

Nick Riewoldt takes a diving mark in 2004.
Nick Riewoldt takes a diving mark in 2004. STUART MCEVOY

St Kilda coach Alan Richardson said Riewoldt had set the standard for years in terms of his leadership and professionalism.

"I haven't seen a better leader in my time in football," Richardson said in a statement.

"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.

 

Suns defender Rory Thompson takes on  Riewoldt during the Round 14 AFL match
Suns defender Rory Thompson takes on Riewoldt during the Round 14 AFL match JOE CASTRO

"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 (his sister) 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."

Riewoldt, 34, has played 333 senior games since his 2001 debut and is one of the game's great key forwards. Only Robert Harvey has played more games for St Kilda, with 383.

Riewoldt holds the club record for the most games as captain with 220 and also the most best and fairest awards with six. He gave up the captaincy last year, handing over to Jarryn Geary.

Taken with the priority No.1 pick in the 2000 national draft, Riewoldt is a five-time All-Australian. Riewoldt was also named captain of the 2009 All-Australian team.

News Corp Australia

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