Wales and Lions captain Sam Warburton has announced he is hanging up his boots with immediate effect

Sam Warburton retires from rugby

Sam Warburton has announced his retirement at the age of just 29. The Cardiff Blues, Wales and British & Irish Lions flanker underwent neck and knee surgery last year and returned to training this summer, but feels his body will now not allow him to play at his best.

He has not played any rugby since the 2017 Lions tour to New Zealand and said: “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.”

Sam Warburton retires from rugby

Lions’ roar: Sam Warburton is cheered by Lions fans in New Zealand (Getty Images)

Cardiff Blues head coach John Mulvihill added: “I met with Sam and he informed me of his decision and his reasons behind it. He is a world-class player and person and was more concerned about letting myself and the Cardiff Blues family down rather than his immediate future.

“As a player, person and role model in rugby he has nothing else to prove. His class and achievements will stand the test of time. He is a Welsh rugby and Cardiff Blues legend and we all wish him and his young family much love, health and happiness in the future.”

Sam Warburton retires from rugby

Local lad: Sam Warburton in action for his region Cardiff Blues (Getty Images)

Warburton hangs up his boots with a long list of glittering achievements next to his name. He has captained the Lions to a series win in Australia and a drawn series in New Zealand as well as led Wales a record 49 times. He won 74 caps in all for his country and another five for the Lions.

“Since I first played aged ten 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 & Irish Lions,” he 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.

Sam Warburton retires from rugby

Double act: Sam Warburton and Warren Gatland achieved a lot of success together (Getty Images)

“I would like the make special mention of Warren Gatland. Without the faith he had in me and his unwavering support I would never have had the career I was able to pursue.”

Wales coach Gatland has paid tribute to the man who served as a captain under him for both Wales and the Lions, saying: “It is hugely disappointing that Sam has retired from the game. He is an outstanding rugby player and he has brought so much to the game on and off the pitch.

“His leadership, attitude and demeanor 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.”

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