Tiger Jason Castagna announces shock retirement at 26

Three-time Richmond premiership forward Jason Castagna has made the shock decision to retire at the age of 26 after losing his love for the game.

Castagna informed his teammates of his decision on Monday, just 17 days out from Richmond's season opener 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."

Castagna, the No. 29 pick at the 2014 rookie draft, made his debut in 2016 and went on to kick 127 goals in 134 games.

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.

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.

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."

Castagna had a career-best season in 2019, booting 27 goals and finishing in the top 10 of the Jack Dyer Medal.

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."