Legendary Ireland lock Paul O’Connell has announced his full retirement from professional rugby, following medical advice.
O’Connell ended his international career following the 2015 Rugby World Cup, when he joined Top 14 club Toulon.
However, a hamstring injury picked up in Ireland’s 24-9 win over France during the tournament prohibited him from making a single appearance for the European champions.
“It is with deep regret that I have decided to retire from professional rugby following medical advice. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all at Rugby Club Toulonnais for their understanding and support over the past few months,” O’Connell said in a statement released by the Irish Rugby Football Union.
“Since sustaining the injury at the World Cup I have been fully focused on returning to fitness and starting an exciting new chapter for both myself and my family in Toulon. Unfortunately this will no longer be possible.”
O’Connell ends a storied career having won 108 Ireland caps and played seven times for the British and Irish Lions.
Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) February 9, 2016
The 36-year-old was part of the Ireland side that finished the 2009 Six Nations with a Grand Slam. In total he won the northern hemisphere championship three times, while collecting two European Cups and three PRO12 titles with Munster.
“I have been blessed to be a professional rugby player for over 14 years and to be part of Munster and Ireland teams that have experienced success,” O’Connell’s statement continued.
“I have played with some of the best players to ever line out in the red of Munster and the green of Ireland and have had the privilege of captaining my country.
“I would like to thank those at Young Munster RFC, Munster Rugby, the IRFU and Lions Rugby who have supported me over the course of my playing career.
“Special thanks must go to my wife Emily for her unwavering support through the good and the bad and to my parents Michael and Shelagh.
“Lastly I would like to thank everyone who has supported the teams I have been a part of. The support you have shown me is humbling and an immense source of pride for both myself and my family.”
ESPN.com – RUGBY