Michael Rischitelli announces his retirement.
Michael Rischitelli announces his retirement. Chris Hyde/AFL Photos

Sun sets on Rischitelli

SUNS veteran Michael Rischitelli has announced his retirement from football.

The man regarded as the heart and soul of the Gold Coast Suns will bring his incredible 16-year AFL career to an end when he plays his 243rd senior game in the club's Round 23 match against GWS this Saturday at Metricon Stadium.

The 33-year-old will go down as one of the most influential players to represent both Queensland clubs, with his leadership, professionalism and character playing an enormous roll in turning around Gold Coast's culture in recent seasons.

"I've loved every moment of my career, it's been an incredible journey," Rischitelli said.

"Throughout my 16 years, I've experienced some fantastic moments and a couple of extremely tough times, but I've enjoyed the ride."

"There are many people I would like to thank for their support throughout, but I have to make mention of my wife Jo, and both our families, they've been unbelievable and I can't thank them enough."

The Victorian-born footballer arrived at Brisbane at the end of their triple-premiership run at the end of 2003, with his appearance in Brisbane's 2009 semi-final loss to the Western Bulldogs the closest he has come to winning the premiership that eluded him.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 04: Michael Rischitelli of the Suns  jumps for a mark during the round 20 AFL match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Gold Coast Suns at Melbourne Cricket Ground on August 04, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Graham Denholm/AFL Photos via Getty Images)
Rischitelli has been a key player on and off the field for the Suns. Graham Denholm/AFL Photos

Rischitelli was taken with pick No. 61 of the 2006 national draft and managed just four senior games in his first two seasons at the Lions, learning from some of the greatest players of the modern era.

He celebrated a breakthrough season in 2006 and while injuries have been heartbreaking at times and on-field success fleeting, the respected footballer said he will leave knowing he gave everything he could to the game and his teammates.

"Michael has been a fantastic leader for our young football club, a role model and father figure for players throughout his nine seasons and influential in driving standards on and off the field," Haines said.

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 20: Michael Rischitelli poses with wife Jo and children Lia and Kai after announcing his retirement during a Gold Coast Suns AFL press conference on August 20, 2019 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)
Rischitelli with wife Jo and children Lia and Kai after announcing his retirement. Chris Hyde/AFL Photos

"Often understated, Rischa has been relentless in his approach to help drive this club forward and his efforts cannot be underestimated.

"On behalf of the club, we thank Michael and his family for their contribution to the establishment of the Gold Coast Suns. He has been an integral part of our history and will always be part of our future, we wish him all the best."