Former Adelaide Pick 6 selection Fischer McAsey has opened up on the hardship he endured during his time in the AFL and his potential return to football after a year away from the game.

McAsey decided to step away from football in January this year, leaving the Crows ahead of the 2023 season after three years at West Lakes.

The 22-year-old spent time away from Adelaide's football program prior to his decision and eventually returned to his home state of Victoria, where he has since taken up a role in teaching breathwork in Melbourne's south-east.

The former first-round selection made the move to South Australia as the Crows' highest-ever draft pick at the time, with McAsey feeling "mixed emotions" as he prepared to make the switch interstate and start his AFL career.

He would play 10 games in his first season under senior coach Matthew Nicks and would not feature at the elite level again, eventually deciding to retire at the age of 21.

Speaking to SEN, the East Brighton junior revealed he struggled day-to-day with life as a professional footballer as he was unable to adapt to a career interstate.

"There was probably some mixed emotions on the night to be completely honest," McAsey said, recalling the night he was drafted to the Crows.

"You have your family there, my sister was a bit emotional. But at the same time it was exciting for a new chapter and a new experience to go somewhere new. Definitely mixed emotions.

"It's a completely different life, when you move interstate especially. Looking back on it, I probably wasn't prepared to have that independent adult lifestyle just yet. COVID sort of compounded that a little bit.

Adelaide Crows Training Session
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 25: Fischer McAsey of the Crows marks in front of Darcy Fogarty of the Crows during an Adelaide Crows AFL training session at AAMI Park on May 25, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mark Brake/Getty Images)

"I did struggle with it a bit, but at the same time it was very good for my personal growth.

"... I had so many good memories over there at the Crows. Even playing in the SANFL last year really, I really enjoyed that. We had a deep run in the finals and I enjoyed playing there.

"But there was a lot of hardship as well. I did struggle quite a bit, sometimes in the day heading into the club I just wasn't enjoying it fully and that ultimately led to my decision (to retire).

"At the same time, I met so many great people and experienced a different part of myself."

McAsey didn't return to playing football this year after leaving the Crows, deciding time away from the game at all levels was needed following his three years with Adelaide.

While he had spoken with as many as two AFL clubs about a potential move, the key defender ultimately decided not playing would be the best outcome.

McAsey is open to playing again in 2024 at a lower level, potentially finding "the spark" he lost that might give him the drive to play AFL football in the future.

"This year I've taken some space to remove myself (from football). I haven't played and I watched a little bit of footy here and there," he said.

AFL Rd 6 - West Coast v Adelaide
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 11: Fischer McAsey of the Crows challenges for the mark during the round 6 AFL match between the West Coast Eagles and the Adelaide Crows at The Gabba on July 11, 2020 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

"I've just taken some space away to give myself some room and then if that spark comes back then that's great. Time will tell. I don't have that same spark I had when I was younger.

"At the moment I don't have those aspirations (to play AFL football again) in my current frame of mind, but I'm still 22. I've still got a lot of time left in front of me.

"If I do play footy [next] year, which I think I probably will, then that spark could return and those motivations could come back. But at the moment I'm focussing on some other things."

Players who are listed as 'retired' aren't able to return to the league until over 12 months from their departure, meaning McAsey could be an option for AFL clubs as early as the 2024 Mid-Season Draft. Exemptions can be made and allow a player's old side to be compensated.