16 years, 242 games, 91 goals, 23 Brownlow Medal votes; the legacy of Michael Rischitelli.

After calling time on his AFL career earlier this week, the 33-year-old has had time to look back on his outstanding career to date.

Drafted out of Victoria in 2003, Rischitelli joined the Brisbane Lions at the height of its premiership years.

He was thrust into a team of superstars and forced to find his own way, turning to the legendary Nigel Lappin as a mentor. 

After seven seasons at Brisbane where he’d just won the club’s best and fairest, Rischitelli joined the Gold Coast SUNS as a foundation player. 

Nine years later and Rischa retires as one of the club’s most respected servants.

“I’ve had the privilege of being involved in AFL for 16 years now and I’ve loved every bit of it,” Rischitelli told the media on Tuesday.

“One thing that I’ve touched on with the boys is just the friendships that you make along the way and how important that is, not just while you’re in footy but once you leave.

“It’s a big reason why you play footy is for those relationships and all the highs and lows that you go through.

“All I ever wanted to do was play footy – I had a ball in my hand every day, it didn’t matter where I was.

“So to be able to be given an opportunity to play footy as a 17-year-old and come up from Melbourne – it was a dream come true.”

Rischitelli paid credit to his family for helping him get to where he is today, proud to hang up the boots for good.

“I’ve got two beautiful kids and Jo, she’s been my absolute teammate for my whole journey.

“There’s a big reason why I was able to play for so long – it’s because of my family. 

“As hard as it is, the time’s come so I’m happy with what I’ve been able to achieve and I’ve left nothing in the tank.

“I’d probably say I’m one of the lucky ones to be honest to be involved for so long.”

Not only has Rischitelli made significant contributions to both clubs he’s represented, he’s also made an impact as an adopted stalwart in Queensland football.

The veteran said he’s seen the game evolve in his time in the Sunshine State.

“I’ve spent half my life in Queensland and it’s been an amazing ride,” Rischitelli said. 

“A lot of change has happened.

“You just see a lot more kids kicking the ball in the park as opposed to just having soccer or rugby balls.

“The signs are good.

“I just see it continually growing which is good for Queensland – it’s what it needs.”

With no regrets and content to see his final game out at Metricon Stadium this weekend, Rischitelli said there was a changing of the guard at the SUNS which convinced him the time was right.

“There’s other guys coming through that can take charge,” he said.

“I’m probably in the way of someone else’s spot that like me when I was younger; I wanted a spot on a list. 

“It’s just going to give someone else an opportunity to take charge and get this club to where it needs to be.”

Rischitelli’s legacy at the club is immense, he’s known as the heart and soul of the Gold Coast Football Club.

The one thing he says he can hang his hat on and be remembered for is his love for his teammates. 

“I just want to be remembered as someone who’s given his all every time and never wanting to let teammates down,” he said.

“One thing I always wanted to live from week to week and now that I’ve left was never let my teammates down. 

“I hope that I’ve done that and I try to do it to the best of my ability.” 

But the cheeky man that he is, Rischitelli couldn’t resist giving one last joke. 

“I’ll make sure the first day of pre-season these boys start I’ll be there with a six-pack for sure.”