SYDNEY FC defender Seb Ryall has stunned the club by walking away from football, having grown disillusioned with playing the sport.
The 28-year-old has had his contract terminated by the Sky Blues at his own request, and will leave the club immediately to seek "a break from football".
Though Ryall, twice a double winner with Sydney, is not actually retiring, it's believed he wants to examine career options outside the game.
The players' union praised Sydney for its handling of the issue and support of Ryall's wishes, despite losing a player who offers back-up across the defence.
But the nature of that role, effectively a permanent understudy, is thought to have been one of the drivers behind his desire for a change, which comes after nine years and 190 appearances for the club.
A year ago he looked set for a starting role when Matt Jurman departed for Korea, but suffered a significant injury in his first game afterwards with the club forced to sign Jordy Buijs in his place.
Now Ryall will pursue "opportunities outside football", which Sydney coach Graham Arnold said he hoped would allow Ryall to "rekindle his passion for the game".
"It has been a privilege and an honour to represent this great club for as long as I have and winning trophies for my home town has been an incredible experience," said Ryall in a club statement.
"I love this club and have made some fantastic friends but for now I feel I need a break from football to pursue some other interests and regain my desire for playing the game.
"It is a big decision, everyone at the club has been unbelievably supportive, and I'm hugely thankful for everything they have done for me during the last nine years.
"Our members have also given me incredible backing throughout my time here and Sydney FC is the only Australian club I would ever wish to play for.
"I wish every Sky Blue more continued success in the future."
Arnold said that Ryall "has been an excellent servant to Sydney FC. To play close to 200 games for one club is a fantastic achievement.
"We didn't want him to leave but we understand his desire to take a break, to do some other things in life and rekindle his passion for the game.
"He and I had a great conversation before he left and he is fully supportive of everyone at the club and everything that we are doing here.
"We wish him well in the next stage of his life."
Professional Footballers Association chief executive praised Sydney's handling of Ryall's exit, adding: "The leadership at Sydney FC has been exceptional in the understanding and collaborative way they have worked with Seb to facilitate this transition."
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