The two-time All-Australian and Richmond life member was traded to Greater Western Sydney at the end of the 2016 season, sensing he would have fallen out of love with the game had he remained at the club which drafted him at pick No.1 in 2004.
A serious calf injury meant Deledio did not play his first senior match for the Giants until round 20.
The 30-year-old was largely ineffective for GWS in the 36-point preliminary final loss to the Tigers, a week before they trounced the Crows in the grand final.
“I probably choked back a few tears at times sitting on the bench… just knowing that I wasn’t going to get the fairytale finish that I was hoping for and playing in a (grand) final,” Deledio told sports social content platform 20FOUR.
Deledio and his young family then chose to spend grand final day at Taronga Zoo in Sydney, rather than watch his former teammates break Richmond’s 37-year premiership drought.
“I love footy and I’ve watched every grand final for the last few years for motivation,” said Deledio, whose only three playoff matches in a decorated 243-match stint with the Tigers all ended in elimination-final defeats.
“But it was still so raw, the emotion of it all, that I made the decision that I probably shouldn’t, just for fear of it really getting to me mentally.
“It was pretty gut-wrenching.
“Also the photos of all the boys celebrating, some of my best mates, that was really tough.
“To go through everything we did in the previous years and then to see them celebrating something I felt I should have been a part of, or could have been a part of, was really tough.”
Despite the disappointment, Deledio insisted he had no regrets about joining the Giants on a three-year deal.
“You tell me one person who could have foreseen the Tiges were going to win the flag and mate, I’ll call them an absolute bullshit artist,” he said.
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