Hawthorn legend Cyril Rioli has retired suddenly from AFL

Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty ImagesCyril Rioli

Hawkes legend Cyril Rioli has retired from AFL, effective immediately, after 11 years with the club.

The 28-year-old 2015 Norm Smith medalist will return to the Northern Territory to be with his family, having spent the last month on compassionate leave with them in Darwin.

The four-time premiership player informed his Hawkes teammates of his decision today.

“The decision to retire from football is something that I have thought long and hard about over the past 12 months. I’ve weighed everything up and I am confident the decision I’ve made is the right one for me and my family,” Rioli said in a statement.

“Football has been my life but it’s always been difficult being away from home. Now is the right time to go home and spend more time with friends and family.

“I love the Hawthorn Football Club and I cannot thank them enough for the opportunities they’ve given me and the way they’ve embraced me and my family over the past 11 years.

“I’d like to thank the Hawthorn fans for all their support over the years, it has been an honour to play in front of you each week.

“Lastly, thank you to my wife Shannyn and all my family, whose support and sacrifice has made it possible for me to live out my childhood dream.”

Here’s the champion in his own words:

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson said Rioli as one of the game’s most influential players of all time.

“There have been very few players that have brought as much excitement to the game,” he 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.

“Cyril came into our club as an 18-year-old kid and leaves an integral part of the fabric of the brown and gold family.”

Rioli debuted in Round 1 2008 as Pick 12 in the 2007. He played 189 games for the Hawkes and was named an All Australian in 2012, 2015 and 2016.

The Hawthorn danger man went on to explain why it was time.

Getty ImagesHawthorn’s Cyril Rioli flies above the pack in 2014

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