Paul O'Connell releases heartfelt statement to announce his full retirement from rugby
It's over for Paulie.
Former Ireland captain Paul O'Connell has this morning announced his full retirement from rugby.
The Munster legend retired from the Ireland national side after the World Cup in October but had hoped to continue his career in France, having signed a two-year contract with Toulon.
But O'Connell had been struggling to recover from the horrific hamstring injury he suffered against France, which has proved to be too much for the second row to recover from and the 36-year-old has had to admit defeat in his bid to return to the game.
O'Connell paid tribute to those who supported him throughout a 14-year career that saw him reach the pinnacle of the sport for Ireland, Munster and the Lions, while also thanking his family and supporters.
In a statement released on the IRFU website, he said:
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.
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.
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.