When Jason Porplyzia retired from the AFL in 2014, his life didn’t move away from football right away.
The former Adelaide forward spent another five years involved in the game.
First as a player with West Adelaide where he won a SANFL flag, then as a development coach with the Bloods, before returning to the Crows in a part-time role with the Club’s Academies.
But about two years ago, Porplyzia decided it was time to take a different path and follow a mate’s advice.
“I now work as a firefighter with the SA Metropolitan Fire Service,” Porplyzia said.
“I had a mate who has been in the service for 12 or 13 years and was in my ears… he made it sound really appealing and I decided to apply.
“I went through the whole process and it’s been a pretty good move.
“It’s rewarding the sort of work that we do, knowing we are in the community helping.
“It’s (the MFS) definitely different from the footy environment, which now feels like a lifetime ago.”
Porplyzia also has his hands full with a young family and is a father to Rori, 6, Darcy, 3, and newborn Jude.
“The girls are very excited and they’ll be like little mothers to the newborn but we are right back in the thick of it with Jude coming along,” he said.
Porplyzia pulled the pin on his playing career in 2018 after four more seasons with Bloods.
But his love for the game never really went away and he returned to the field earlier this year with Great Southern Football League side, Mount Compass.
The Crows great “only lasted one game”, with his body not capable of playing.
Reflecting on his AFL career, Porplyzia was grateful for the twists and turns it took.
Adelaide drafted him to its rookie list in 2003, before cutting him after a season.
He then went back to the SANFL where he featured with West Adelaide, until the Crows reclaimed him at the 2006 pre-season draft after he proved he was ready for another crack.
The fan-favourite made his AFL debut in a win against the Western Bulldogs in Round Five, 2006, and booted three goals.
Porplyzia told AFC Media that was a memory he would cherish forever.
“The team was really strong and I remember spending a lot of time on the bench but being able to enjoy some time on the ground in the last quarter was special,” Porplyzia said.
“It was a special game, it was the culmination of a lot of hard work that I had put in a few years before.
“I just had to put the hard work in and that first game and even getting drafted again, it was just a reward for all the hard work that had been put in leading into that point.”
He went on to play 130 AFL games and finished with 181 majors for the Club, before injuries took their toll and he hung up the boots in 2014.
“I probably appreciated it more having gone through those harder times and having to really chip away and work at it for a few years,” Porplyzia, 36, said.
“It was a blessing in disguise, really, being delisted as a rookie to then working my way back onto the list.
“Knowing that it wasn’t going to come easy and that I really had to do it myself and not rely on others to get me through.
“It really set me up for my career and I’ve carried that with me through life, that professionalism and hard working attitude.”
Although still missing footy, Porplyzia said he was content with where his life had taken him.
“I had a lot of pride wearing the guernsey every week and being able to step out representing the footy Club, the fans and my family,” Porplyzia said.
“I loved competing, testing myself against the best and working on my game during training.
“I had to develop resilience and it was a constant battle to keep improving, getting injuries better and getting back out there.
“It would’ve been nice not to have to deal with so many injuries but I got to live my dream.”