Patrick Dangerfield says he understands the anger from Adelaide supporters at his decision to quit the AFL club.
Dangerfield on Saturday night won Adelaide’s club champion award, just three days after announcing he was leaving the club.
“It certainly brings up a huge range of emotions,” Dangerfield said in his acceptance speech.
“So standing here in front of everyone, it’s certainly very difficult because I understand it’s a decision that not too many people are too pleased about.
“But I would hope that they understand that it’s in the right manner, rather than any other reason.”
Dangerfield, raised at Moggs Creek near Geelong, said he wanted to return home solely for family reasons.
The brilliant midfielder, who has reportedly been offered more than $5 million over six years to join Geelong, said standing before the Crows faithful at the club champion function was difficult.
“It’s certainly a unique situation, standing here in front of you – and that makes it incredibly difficult to deliver (the speech),” he said.
“The AFC certainly holds a really special place in my heart … it has certainly been a home away from home, if there is such a thing.”
Dangerfield said he would be “forever proud” at how Crows players galvanised after the death of first-year head coach Phil Walsh, who was allegedly murdered by his son on July 3 this year.
“I think that achievement in itself is, in a way, far greater than any premiership,” he said.
“It says a huge amount about the character in this group and it didn’t surprise me one bit with the way it was handled.
“In an environment like this, friendships are comparable to those of brothers. The boys really are that close.
“And that is what this group such an incredible group to be a part of and they are certainly memories that I will treasure forever.”
Dangerfield said the lure of returning to Geelong and being near family again was paramount.
“I want to assue everyone here tonight that the attraction for me of being closer to family proved too great, as well as the prospect of starting my own family with (fiancee) Mardi in a place that we both love and both grew up in,” he said.
“I wish the members and supporters, particularly the players, every success in the world. There is no team more deserving and I’m sure they won’t stop until the job is done.”