The 33-year-old premiership player announced his retirement today in front of family and a large contingent of past and present players.
Richards, who has played 261 games between Essendon and Sydney, said he was focused on earning a spot in the Swans side ahead of the finals.
“There’s an excitement and an energy I get from doing everything for the last time,” Richards said.
“I’ve got a challenge in front of me to work my way back into the senior team and I’m up for it.”
The 2012 All-Australian defender has battled concussion in recent seasons and has been hampered by several injuries, including a fractured eye socket in 2016.
But Richards said it wasn’t only the physical toll of AFL football that had convinced him to hang up the boots at the end of this season.
“There’s also a mental side too, you’ve got to be fully prepared for everything a season takes and I think I’m ready for a new challenge,” he said.
Richards, who has played in three AFL grand finals, said he planned to enter the financial world after football.
The Richards name will live on at the Swans, with younger brother Xavier carving out a role for himself in the Sydney forward line.
Richards said aside from the 2012 premiership, playing beside his brother was an unforgettable experience.
“It’s been one of the highlights of my career in that we got to play a game together for 10 minutes when he came off the bench,” Richards said.
“As insignificant as it sounds, running out together has been a real highlight of my life.”
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