MX23RW : Thursday, September 20 01:37:42

England international Tom Croft retires on medical grounds

Leicester Tigers, England and British and Irish Lions forward Tom Croft announces his retirement with immediate effect due to a neck injury.

Leicester Tigers forward Tom Croft has announced his retirement from professional rugby with immediate effect on medical grounds.

The 31-year-old has enjoyed an illustrious one-club career with the Tigers, helping the team to four Premiership titles and the 2009 European Cup final during his 173 first-team appearances over 12 years.

However, having suffered another neck injury earlier this season the former England international has been forced to retire from the game on the advice of his doctors.

"I've played professional rugby at Leicester for 12 years and in that time I've enjoyed every second of it. I've played alongside and against some incredible players and made many lifelong friends in the game. Unfortunately I have also suffered some reasonably significant injuries and now, after seeking advice on a neck injury, I have to announce my retirement as a player," Croft said in a statement.

"Leaving the game has been a massive decision for me, it is all I've known since leaving school, but with the issues I've had fitness-wise over the last few years and with my wife and two young kids at home it's the right time to hang the boots up and move on to the next chapter.

"There are so many big games to look back on. But making my debut for Tigers against Gloucester in 2005, gaining my first England cap and wearing the Lions shirt on two tours are up there with my best memories of the game.

"I've had great support from so many people and there are so many mates I've grown up with in the game, guys like Matt Smith who I first met at school, Dan Cole, Tom and Ben Youngs, guys who I came through the Tigers academy with at a similar time and are still the core of the club today."

Croft won 40 caps for England and played in five Tests during two tours for the British and Irish Lions.

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Tom Croft of Leicester Tigers poses for a portrait at the photocall held at Welford Road on August 16, 2013
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