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Former captain Cassisi to retire following Sunday's game against Melbourne

Matthew Agius  July 17, 2014 10:30 AM

PTV: Dom Cassisi career highlights The best from Dom Cassisi's fantastic AFL career
Former captain Dom Cassisi in action in 2014. He will play his final game against Melbourne at the Adelaide Oval on Sunday.

Former captain Dom Cassisi in action in 2014. He will play his final game against Melbourne at the Adelaide Oval on Sunday.

AFTER 14 seasons at the elite level, former Port Adelaide captain Dom Cassisi will pull on his boots for the last time this weekend.

His imminent selection in the Power’s lineup to face Melbourne gives the 2004 premiership player the opportunity to farewell the supporters who have been a fundamental part of his day-to-day life since he was drafted to Port Adelaide with pick 50 in the 2000 National Draft.

He will officially retire from the club following that game.

The West Australian has played 227 career games for the Power – Sunday’s match will be his 228th and final - and has kicked 74 goals as a tough, contested midfielder/defender.

Cassisi is one of Port Adelaide’s few AFL players who can claim to have seen everything the most gruelling competition in the world can throw at a sportsperson. 

Having arrived at Alberton at a time when the Port Adelaide juggernaut was hitting its stride, Cassisi debuted in the 2002 season before his home crowd when the Power dismantled Fremantle by 84 points at Patersons Stadium.
 
The young Cassisi had jumped on a truly powerful force as an 18-year-old, one of many players who would enjoy the Power's rise to the top of football in Australia.

He was there when the club won consecutive minor premierships as the best home-and-away club in 2002, 2003 and 2004.

And he played as part of the club's ultimate achievement - the 2004 AFL premiership-winning team.

Undeniably it will sit proudly as his highest personal glory.

Through leaner years in the mid-2000s, Cassisi would again rise with his team to another grand final in 2007 and face the bitter pill of defeat in that final day of September.

It’s where the true test of his character came to the fore.

As Warren Tredrea relinquished the captain’s No. 1 guernsey at the end of a disappointing 2008 campaign, the honour, tradition and responsibility that comes with wearing that important number was awarded to Dom.

He became just the fourth AFL captain of the club, with large boots – those of predecessors Gavin Wanganeen, Matthew Primus and Tredrea – to fill.

And he did it with aplomb.

It was Cassisi who led the club through arguably its darkest period in the competition, all the while continuing to produce some of his best form.

The veteran handed the captain's jumper over to Travis Boak at the beginning of 2013, and while he didn’t form part of a new, younger leadership group calling the shots inside the walls of Power HQ, he remained firmly entrenched in the fibre of the club’s new and emerging culture.

He's the club's elder statesman, respected by all within Alberton’s walls.

The 31-year-old - fast approaching 32 - admits his body is less durable as it once was and, despite several good performances in 2014, feels the time is right to hang up the boots.

In doing so, he’ll depart the game on a high note, knowing he’s still capable of producing elite-level football and that his club is heading in the right direction.

There's just enough left in the old warhorse to give it one more crack.


Dom Cassisi celebrates one of many wins in his early career

Nobly, he acknowledges his departure from the game this weekend will give the next Dom Cassisi the chance to cut his teeth for the oldest club in South Australia.

“It’s been amazing and I’ve lived my absolute dream to play AFL,” Cassisi told portadelaidefc.com.au.

“I have just felt honoured and privileged to play for the one club.

“To win a premiership and wear the captain’s number one guernsey is just such an honour.

“[But] I think it’s time for me to hand the baton to the next group of young players coming through.

“I leave the game really happy and content, particularly with where the club is at right now.”

There was little doubt Cassisi would be recalled this weekend, despite the need to manage his body being greater than usual this season.

But even his senior coach recognises the ability and leadership that still exists in the club's oldest player.

Ken Hinkley praised Cassisi's team-first attitude which, he says, reflects in his decision to give an opportunity to the club's future heroes by stepping down this weekend.

“Dom Cassisi is an outstanding leader for this football club,” Hinkley told portadelaidefc.com.au.

“Dom leads by example in the team-first attitude he displays in everything he does, in my time at the football club he’s been nothing but supportive of what we’re doing.

“He’s been selfless in the way he’s handled himself throughout, for him it’s all about what’s best for Port Adelaide.

“Dom’s decision, now, is about giving a younger player an opportunity as he feels it’s the right thing for the team.”

Fittingly, Cassisi's retirement will come when the Power hosts the Demons in the AFL's Multicultural Round game.

He has honoured his Italian ancestry throughout his career by acting as a conduit between Port Adelaide and the South Australian Italian community.

His proud work with the club's multicultural programs over many years is a credit to his well-rounded contribution to football and the community in the state.

Dom Cassisi will play his 228th and final AFL game against Melbourne on Sunday 20 July at the Adelaide Oval at 12:40pm.

Dom Cassisi career highlights
DOB: 22 September 1982
Draft: Selection No. 50, 2000 National Draft
Recruited from: East Fremantle
Debut: Round 14, 2002 v Fremantle at Patersons Stadium
Port Adelaide cap number: #64
AFL Games: 227 (228 in Round 18 v Melbourne)
AFL Goals: 74

Port Adelaide Football Club captain - 4th AFL, 61st first class
AFL Premiership player - 2004
4x Fos Williams Medallist (Port Adelaide's best team man) - 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
John Cahill Medal, 2nd place - 2008
John Cahill Medal, 3rd place - 2005
Most improved player - 2005