AAP AFL

Hawthorn star Cyril Rioli retires from AFL

By AAP Newswire

The AFL has lost a much-loved figure, with Hawthorn premiership star Cyril Rioli's decision to call time on his celebrated career.

The sublimely-talented, universally-admired small forward with the ability to make the impossible look effortless will grace the footy field no more.

Rioli was contracted to the Hawks until the end of the 2020 season but told his teammates of his decision to walk away from the game on Wednesday morning.

The 28-year-old spent time in home town Darwin at the end of last year to be with his father after he suffered a near-fatal heart attack.

Rioli was granted compassionate leave again in early June and again travelled with his family to Darwin.

In the end, the pull of home proved too much for the four-time premiership star.

"It was obviously a pretty difficult, but also in a way, easy decision," Rioli said of the his retirement call.

"I feel like things that have happened over the past 12 months have really affected me in many ways.

"I think it's just the right time in terms of going home and hanging up the boots.

"I've been pretty proud of what I've been able to achieve, I felt like I've had a really happy and good career.

"But I think it's just time for myself and my wife to return home and be amongst friends and family again ... I've been away for so long now.

"I'm looking forward to the next journey of my life."

Rioli, taken with pick No.12 at the 2007 draft, made 189 senior appearances for the Hawks, including the 2008, 2013, 2014 and 2015 grand final wins, and kicked 275 goals.

He won the Norm Smith Medal for his dazzling display in the 2015 grand final win over West Coast and was an All-Australian on three occasions.

His last AFL match was against Melbourne in round four when he suffered a medial ligament injury.

The once-in-a-generation talent struggled with his knees over the past two seasons, injuries restricting him to four matches this season and seven last year.

"Cyril has been an outstanding servant of this football club for a long period of time and there have been very few players that have brought as much excitement to the game," coach Alastair Clarkson said.

"His ability to influence a contest with a minimal amount of disposals is like no player I have ever seen and that's why the whole footy world loves watching him play."

Rioli will now take some time out but has expressed a desire to remain involved with Hawthorn's indigenous programs in some capacity down the track.