Wales great Sam Warburton has announced his retirement from rugby.
The 29-year-old had been recovering from neck and knee surgery following his last international appearance against New Zealand in June 2017.
The flanker had been expected to return from injury and joined in pre-season training with club side Cardiff Blues this year.
However, according to a statement published by the Welsh Rugby Union, Warburton was not confident that he would return to his best form and so has called time on his career.
“Unfortunately, after a long period of rest and rehabilitation, the decision to retire from rugby has been made with my health and wellbeing as a priority as my body is unable to give me back what I had hoped for on my return to training,” said Warburton, who was capped 74 times by Wales and captained his country on a record 49 occasions.
“I cannot thank the Welsh Rugby Union and Cardiff Blues enough. They have gone beyond the call of duty in providing the support I received to help me get back on the field, for which I will be forever grateful.”
— Welsh Rugby Union (@WelshRugbyUnion) July 18, 2018
Warburton led Wales to a Six Nations Grand Slam in 2012, while he captained the British and Irish Lions for their 2013 and 2017 tours, the latter of which ended in a draw with world champions New Zealand.
He was the Lions’ youngest ever skipper at 24 and became just the second man to lead the team into two tours.
“Since I first played aged 10 at Llanishen Fach Primary School, then Whitchurch High School and Rhiwbina Juniors RFC, I always dreamed of playing for my hometown club the Cardiff Blues, Wales and the British and Irish Lions,” Warburton said.
“To look back on my career, I’m extremely proud of what I managed to achieve. There are so many people who helped me along the way, from schoolteachers, coaches, friends and family.
“I thank you so much for supporting my dreams and aspirations. I hope they too can take some pride from my career.”
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