As everyone knows, I have requested a trade to the Geelong Football Club. A lot of people are likely to be making assumptions about why I made this decision; however, only a few people know the reasons why.

I have been playing football for 16 years now. I began playing the game before I was able to graduate high school at the age of seventeen. Football is all I have ever known and it’s a massive part of who I am.

I have been privileged enough to have achieved a lot of success in the time that I have played this game.

However, as most people know, success and sacrifice go hand in hand. As grateful as I am for my career and everything that has come with it, having it consume most of my life has meant that other areas have had to take a back seat during that time.

Sixteen years on, now married and looking to start a family, my priorities have shifted. I need to be around my family back home, who I have spent the last 7 years doing long distance with.

My sisters, my brother, and parents all play a huge role in my life, and it’s time that I make myself more available to them and others back home.

I am at a stage in my career where I need to get the balance right between footy and life outside of football, and the recent break period has allowed me the time that I needed to put certain things in place.

AFL superstar Gary Ablett sings the team song with Gold Coast Suns teammates
GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA – JULY 01: Gary Ablett and Steven May of the the Suns sing the team song after winning the round 15 the Gold Coast Suns and the North Melbourne Kangaroos at Metricon Stadium on July 1, 2017 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

People will wonder whether I regret my decision signing with the Gold Coast Suns. I can promise you, that is simply not true.

Although I am requesting for my time to come to an end on the Gold Coast, there is absolutely nothing that I would have done differently.

The Gold Coast Football Club has played an essential role in the man and football player that I am today.

It has allowed me to grow as a player and as a leader. I have built great relationships and have made lifelong friends. Coming to this decision has been extremely tough because, like most people, I don’t like disappointing others.

However, I’ve learnt that unfortunately in life you can’t make everybody happy.

As a footy club we have been through so many ups and downs. I know how hard the players, coaching staff, and administration have worked through that process. If blood, sweat and tears count for anything, we should have had much more success on-field.

Nobody wanted that more than me. I said from day one that it was about winning a premiership and playing finals football.

Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to achieve that. This hurts. But, I also have total faith in the Gold Coast Suns. I’m confident that the football club is heading in the right direction and are not a long way off from achieving that success.

Gary Ablett celebrates with the fans from the Gold Coast Suns
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – MAY 04: Gary Ablett of the Suns celebrates the win with fans during the round seven AFL match between the North Melbourne Kangaroos and the Gold Coast Suns at Etihad Stadium on May 4, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

To the fans, seeing you rally behind us over the last seven years has been extremely humbling. You are the heart of this club and one of the very reasons it will be successful.

I am overwhelmingly proud of the Suns and my seven years here. I will be forever grateful to have been this club’s inaugural captain. I don’t look back with any regret because I know I gave my absolute all every time I wore our colours. The supporters deserved that.

Everyone has things that they’re going through in their personal lives which is why I hope you, the Suns fans, can understand why I am seeking a trade back to Geelong.

At the age of 33, I am confident that I have a lot of footy still left in my body. But I am also aware that, at my age, it’s really all about balance. The Gold Coast, the Suns, and the supporters will always be apart of who I am.

I want to thank a few people who have been my greatest supporters over the last seven years.

To the Suns’ administration, it was extremely difficult for me to come and meet with you to request the trade. However, when I sat with you, I couldn’t help but feel respected and heard. Thank you for seeking to understand and for making yourselves approachable.

To my teammates, thank you for always having my back and for supporting me throughout this process. I’ve enjoyed riding the highs and lows with each and every one of you, and I couldn’t be more proud of the young men that you have all developed into. We’ve been through a lot together, and our unity and brotherhood is something that I will cherish forever.

Gary Ablett is embraced by Gold Coast Suns captains Tom Lynch & Steven May
GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA – JULY 01: Tom Lynch, Gary Ablett and Steven May of the the Suns celebrate winning the round 15 the Gold Coast Suns and the North Melbourne Kangaroos at Metricon Stadium on July 1, 2017 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

To my family back home, although my move interstate has been difficult at times, you’ve done nothing but support me and want the very best for me. I’m grateful to have you as my family, and I love and appreciate each one of you.

And lastly, and most importantly, to my wife, Jordan… Your support has meant the world to me and quite frankly, I wouldn’t know what to do without it. You’ve made this process so much easier by trusting me to make the right decision.

I love knowing that whether I am on the Gold Coast, down in Geelong, or enjoying retirement, there you are, always by my side. Thank you for inspiring me to always strive to be better, not just as a footballer, but most importantly as a person, a leader, and a friend.