Superstar Hawthorn forward Cyril Rioli has retired from the AFL effective immediately, citing family reasons.
The dynamic 28-year-old, boasting a near-unparalleled showcase reel as well as an instrumental hand in Hawthorn’s premiership dominance through the mid-2010s, departs the game to relocate to Darwin with his new family.
“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,” Rioli stated in his final address to teammates after training on Wednesday morning.
“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.”
The man nicknamed ‘Junior’, named after his father and continuing a strong Rioli legacy in football stretching back four decades, excelled in his sport from an early age. After being scouted and moving to Melbourne as a 14-year-old to board at Scotch College, he was selected by Hawthorn in the 2007 draft and went on to provide 275 goals in 189 games across 11 seasons, and endless dazzling footage in between.
Cyril Rioli had creative intensity, supreme skills, courage, power. When he first appeared, he was like a psychedelic blur in the packs. He routinely saw possibilities that were only apparent to the rest of us after he had done the deed. One of my all-time favourite players!
Rioli, who last played in Round 4 as he struggled to overcome hamstring issues, nevertheless farewells a game that proclaims him as perhaps the greatest human highlight reel of the modern era, and was aptly rewarded for his moment of brilliance against Essendon at Etihad Stadium with the 2009 Goal of the Year award.
Stellar performances both in the 2008 winning Grand Final over Geelong in his debut season, when he played every game, and the 2015 win over West Coast serve as his most important of countless career highlights, rewarded with the Norm Smith Medal for best on ground in the latter.
“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,” Rioli said.