Emotional Rocca bows out of AFL - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Emotional Rocca bows out of AFL

By Adam Cooper 03/09/2006 09:08:00 PM Comments (0)

Saverio Rocca kept it in check as his team-mates wished him well but could not contain himself as Collingwood farewelled him from the AFL.

The Kangaroos full-forward and former Magpie teared up when his brother Anthony - an opponent at the MCG - and some of his former teammates joined the well-wishers after the final siren.

"Once the Collingwood boys came over, I was containing it pretty well until my brother came over and said well done and gave me a hug," said Rocca, who bowed out with 748 goals from his 257 games.

"That was the point where things went sour."

Both sides formed a guard of honour for Rocca to walk off with his sons Matthew and Lucas and his dad Mick and many of the 49,040-strong crowd stayed to watch.

Rocca booted three goals from his four kicks but was largely a spectator in the final quarter as the Magpies steamrolled the Kangaroos to win 20.19 (139) to 10.11 (71).

At 32, the AFL chapter of his life is over.

But his sporting career is not, as, on Tuesday, he flies to Los Angeles to chase his dream to become a punter in the NFL.

If he does get his chance, it will most likely be with the Buffalo Bills next NFL season.

Collingwood gave Rocca his chance in 1992, when the then-17-year-old's massive frame made him irresistible for the forward line, especially given his brilliant kicking.

Rocca reflected on how the game had since changed.

"In '92 the ball was a lot more directed to a single forward, a big man," he said.

"Whereas now you're not always the focal point.

"You've got to make sure you're in and out of space, because we might be kicking to a little bloke and we've got Thommo (Nathan Thompson) and we've got Wellsy (Daniel Wells) and other guys who can kick goals, and we don't want to become too dimensional.

"That's the way that footy's gone, so it is a little bit harder to get a kick now."

Both coaches also paid tribute.

Collingwood's Mick Malthouse, who coached him in 2000 but then delisted him, said Rocca had been a pleasure to work with and had been a credit to his close-knit family.

Kangaroos boss Dean Laidley said Rocca was an icon of the game and did not rule out seeing him again in the blue and white.

"I really wish him well and I might even invite him back," he said.

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