Tigers premiership winner Jason Castagna has stunned the AFL world and called time on his career at the age of 26 after falling out of love with the sport. Castagna won the 2017, 2019 and 20220 flags with the Tigers and has kicked 127 goals across 134 games as a forward.
However, the 26-year-old made the shock decision to call time on his career only 17 days out from Richmond's first game of the season against Carlton at the MCG. "I love everything about this club and everyone in it, which has been the thing that has made this decision the hardest," Castagna said in a statement.
"This game is such a demanding one physically and mentally, and something I have given my all to since I first walked in the doors here and for the years before that. Now that I cannot give that same energy, it has made me realise that I would be letting the boys and the club down if I just coasted through and did not give it my all until the end, which has led me to this call."
Richmond released a video of Castagna telling his teammates about the sudden retirement. And the forward said it was the right time to make call ahead of the upcoming season.
"I feel a lot of relief now. I am really happy I got to thank the people I wanted to thank," he said. "I told them now is the right time to make the call, as opposed to continuing through the season and not doing it 100 per cent."
Castagna added that his time playing footy was a memorable one and he achieved a lot more than he ever expected having won three premierships. Tigers fans were quick to praise the forward for his time at the club.
"I owe so much to Richmond and I'm honoured and happy to say that I played for just Richmond my whole career." 💛
Jason Castagna reflects on his journey following his retirement announcement... pic.twitter.com/f7f2y1HSvU
— Richmond FC 🐯 (@Richmond_FC) February 27, 2023
Go well Jason Castagna.
Never knew what you were going to do next and I’m sure as hell the opposition had no clue either and that made it super fun to watch.
Most importantly you weren’t a player on the fringe of selection during our flag years. You made a difference. #gotiges
— Tigerman (@TigermanMelb) February 27, 2023
Cheers Jason Castagna, you always gave us plenty to talk about. There's only 140-odd triple premiership players in history and #George belongs in there.
— 4boat🇺🇦 (@4Boat) February 27, 2023
Underrated player, played a big part in 17 and 19
— ilikebolos (@massivebolos) February 27, 2023
i'm not prepared to go into the new afl era, all my heros like jason castagna are retiring 😟
— Mitchell Webber (@webberm52) February 27, 2023
Jason Castagna! Triple Premiership hero! Tiger for life. Thanks Jason!
— Duck (@duckboy6) February 27, 2023
Jason Castagna's legacy at the Richmond Tigers
Castagna, the No. 29 pick at the 2014 rookie draft, made his debut in 2016. He and star teammate Dustin Martin were the only Tigers players to boot 25 goals or more in each of the 2017, 2018, and 2019 seasons; such was his consistency throughout that period.
He played in 92 games of a possible 95 across the three premiership years. After starting his career as a dashing defender, Castagna made his mark in his third season in the AFL as a frenetic forward, helping transform the way Damien Hardwick's side played in the drought-breaking 2017 premiership campaign.
Castagna had a career-best season in 2019, booting 27 goals and finishing in the top 10 of the Jack Dyer Medal. Castagna played in the 2017, 2019 and 2020 flags, and said he was grateful for the connections he has made across his journey.
"One my favourite things about playing AFL football has been that I got to go out on the MCG each week, warm up with the Castagna name on my back, and represent my family. I will always be proud of that," he said.
"The connection I feel to this group and the past players that I spent time with here as well is something I will have forever and I am so grateful for that." He also produced a strong but wayward grand final performance in the 84-point thrashing of GWS, gathering 20 disposals and being a constant goal threat on the way to tallying 0.5 and six marks.
"Jason has been the ultimate teammate over the course of his 134 games at Richmond," Richmond football manager Blair Hartley said. "Jason is so selfless and went about his business with minimum fuss.
"He set the tone with the pressure he created in the forward half of the ground through effort, grit and the ability to win or halve contests for the team."
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