London Wasps have announced that former England and B&I Lions flanker Joe Worsley is to retire immediately from the game due to a neck injury.
Worsley, who joined the the club's academy in 1993 as a 16-year-old, has failed to recover from the injury which has prevented him from training in recent months, and he has made the tough decision to hang up his boots at Adams Park.
"Last season I suffered an injury to my neck that has effectively ended my career," he revealed to the London Wasps website on Monday.
"Since March I have been following medical and rehab advice but it didn't help, and restarting contact work during the England World Cup Camp made it obvious that I could not continue. My life as a rugby player started at Welwyn under 9s and finished in an England training session - I want to say thanks to everyone who helped me on that path. I'm proud of what I achieved and how I played the game."
Worsley made over 300 appearances for Wasps in a career spanning almost two decades. He has won almost every accolade possible with the club, lifting the Heineken Cup twice and the Premiership four times as well as the Powergen Cup on three occasions. He has also represented the Barbarians, the British and Irish Lions and has earned 78 caps for England, including a World Cup win in 2003, for which he was awarded an MBE.
"Joe is a real legend at this Club and we are all very sad to see his playing days come to an end. He has been a fantastic servant to Wasps and played a huge role in much of the Club's success," said London Wasps Owner Steve Hayes.
"He also was a superb representative on the international stage, becoming a key figure for England and inspiring many budding young players with his tenacious back-row play. He will leave big boots to fill and we wish him all the very best as he moves on with the next stage of his life. I hope that we will still see him regularly around Adams Park and he knows he is welcome back here anytime."
England Team Manager Martin Johnson paid tribute to Worsley.
"It's sad for Joe that he has had to retire because of injury," said Johnson.
"He was a great team-mate and always gave 100 per cent for England and Wasps in winning every trophy available. On behalf of the England squad we wish him well and hope that he is just as successful after rugby."