In the lead up to the Madden Medal presentation on Thursday, the retiring class of 2019 have put together a letter to their younger selves detailing the lessons they learned during their careers. Over the next week, aflplayers.com.au will publish the letters of these players to help celebrate their achievements. Here is former Tiger and Giant Brett Deledio’s letter to his 18-year-old self.
What a career you will have.
You won’t know it at the time, but football will become more than just a game to you.
It will provide you opportunities beyond your wildest dreams and provide you with friendships you’ll have for life.
Following the International Rules series in the lead-up to your second pre-season, you’ll receive a piece of advice from former Tigers’ captain Kane Johnson that will hold you in good stead for the rest of your career.
He’ll pull you aside and say, ‘Mate, if I can give you one piece of advice it would be to go out hard and hold on’.
It’s something that you’ll use throughout your career – go out hard and hold on as long as you can.
You’ll train religiously and become known for your work ethic, but unfortunately it won’t always go according to plans.
Your calves will become your biggest hindrance and you’ll miss months of football because of them.
If you can, take your rest and enjoy your breaks.
In saying that, you’ll be a dedicated, one-eyed footballer and that will be the reason you go on to play 275 games.
You’ll never rest on your laurels of being a talented player.
Instead, you’ll work incredibly hard to try to be the best.
It won’t always turn out – you’re not Chris Judd, Gary Ablett or ‘Buddy’ Franklin by any stretch.
But, you are you and you will be proud of what you’ve been able to give.
When you eventually make the decision to retire after 13 years with Richmond and the GWS Giants, it’ll be confronting and nerve-racking in the same breath.
Take your time to reflect, because you’ll be incredibly blessed about the life you’ve been able to live.
It’ll feel like only yesterday that you joined Richmond with those blonde tips in your hair.
From the years you had with the Tigers, to making the challenging but rewarding decision to move north to the Giants and start afresh.
When you look back and reflect on the people you’ve met and the journey you’ve had you’ll feel proud of what you’ve been able to achieve.
Then, there’s the individual honours you’ve been awarded, too.
It shows a little bit of reward for the effort you’ll have put in.
You can leave the game knowing you’ve left no stone unturned in terms of preparation and trying to get the best out the ability you were given.
Always remember that none of this would have been possible without the support of your family, your wife, Katie, and your two daughters, Milla and Charlotte.
You’ll rely heavily on your brother, Matthew, for support and your family to chew the fat when times are tough.
They’ll pick you back up in challenging times and be there for you along the way.
When people ask you want you want your legacy to be as a footballer; you’ll be able to say that you were an incredibly hard trainer and the ultimate professional.
You gave yourself every opportunity to be the best and that’s something you’ll hang your hat on.
Your career doesn’t last forever but the friendships do.
You’ll leave the game with mates for life.
Most importantly, you’ll be incredibly grateful to the Richmond Football Club and the GWS Giants for taking a chance on a skinny, young kid from Kyabram and turning him into the person he is today.