He’s one of rugby league’s biggest characters, not just in stature, but popularity too.
On Friday the big fella we know as 'Siro' who played 248 games for his beloved Balmain Tigers was given a heartfelt send-off at Leichhardt Oval.
Sironen called time on his role as Wests Tigers Pathways Manager (Balmain) last month in readiness for life’s next chapter, a sea change if you like, on the NSW North Coast.
And just as Siro wanted, no fanfare, no fancy cocktails, just a few cold beers at Leichhardt on a Friday afternoon.
“This is really nice, and I couldn’t think of a better way to say farewell,” Sironen said.
“The club asked me what I might like as a farewell gift, and this is exactly what I wanted.
I’ve had some great times at this club over about three decades and we have formed some lifelong friendships.Paul Sironen
“It’s been a huge part of my family’s life and who I am as a person but it’s time for a change.
“We’re relocating to the NSW North Coast and very much looking forward to the next phase in life.
“I’ll get to as many games as I can and obviously the Tigers will always be a part of who I am.”
Around one hundred of Siro’s mates, former teammates, and colleagues gathered in the Chairman's Lounge at Leichhardt, trading yarns and reminiscing.
Players past and present were in attendance, including the 2024 NRL squad and one of his ‘besties’, Steve Blocker Roach.
Roach and Sironen were Tigers teammates for eight seasons, both playing in the back-to-back grand final losses in 1988 and 1989.
They also packed down together on countless occasions for the Kangaroos and in Origin for NSW.
As Siro explained earlier this year on Wests Tigers official podcast, Behind The Roar, not winning a grand final is his greatest disappointment in a decorated career.
Rewind: Siro scores one of the great Balmain tries
Up 12-2 at half time against the Raiders in the ’89 decider, after the big fella found himself on the end of a wonderful team try, he admits he thought the title was theirs for the taking. Sadly, it was not to be.
A man-mountain of Finnish descent, Sironen has given plenty to the game since those heady days in the 80’s when he was one of the chosen few to star in the ARL’s Simply The Best campaign.
He’s also dedicated much of his life to the Tigers, both the Balmain and Wests variety. In fact, the 58-year-old bit-part Lowes Menswear actor has been tied to the club for more than half his life.
Siro played more games than any other in the history of Balmain Tigers before filling various roles over two decades at Wests Tigers, including board member and pathways manager.
Wests Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe paid tribute Sironen at Leichhardt Oval on Friday afternoon saying his contribution to the club has been invaluable.
"Paul's transition from a stellar playing career to nurturing young talent has been a testament to his commitment to our sport and this club," Pasco said.
He's had a profound influence on our club both on and off the field and his contributions will continue to resonate for years to come.Justin Pascoe
"We wish Paul and his family all the happiness in the world in their next phase in life."
Thank you Siro. Not goodbye. Just farewell.