Rugby star Paul O'Connell is bowing out of the sport for good, he confirmed this morning.
Having sustained a severe hamstring injury playing for Ireland during last October's Rugby World Cup match against France, he announced his retirement today "with deep regret."
The former Irish captain had hoped to kick off a new playing career with French club Toulon this season, but with his recovery taking longer than anticipated, he has been forced to cancel his contract without playing a game,
"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 today.
"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. 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.
"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.
"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."