Wales and Cardiff Blues flanker Sam Warburton has retired from rugby at the age of 29.
The former British and Lions captain had recently returned to training with Cardiff Blues, having come back from knee and neck surgery, but has decided to call it a day as he felt that he could not return to the heights of his pre-injury performances.
“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 hope for on my return to training.”
— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) July 18, 2018
Wales coach Warren Gatland paid tribute to Warburton, winner of 79 international caps, two Six Nations championships and captain on the Lions tours of 2013 and 2017:
“He is an outstanding rugby player and he has brought so much to the game on and off the pitch.
“His leadership, attitude and demeanour along with his performances have placed Sam up there as one of the best and most respected players in the world.
“He finishes with a record that he should be extremely proud of and should look back on his career with huge pride.”
49 – Sam Warburton captained Wales on 49 occasions, more than any other player, while he is also one of just two players to captain the Lions on two tours (also Martin Johnson). Skipper. 🏴🦁 pic.twitter.com/oJ63xt08uR
— OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) July 18, 2018