Gloucester warrior Andy Hazell retires after failing to recover from concussions
Gloucester's former England flanker Andy Hazell has announced his retirement from rugby with immediate effect.
Hazell spent his entire 17-season playing career at Kingsholm, making his debut during the 1997-98 campaign and going on to register more than 250 appearances. He also won seven England caps.
He has struggled, though, to overcome a concussion injury suffered last summer, and now steps down from the sport on medical advice.
"I am sad that it is all coming to an end, but at the same time I am proud to have played 17 seasons for my home town club. I can't really grumble," Hazell said.
"It started back in August. I got concussed, came back and then got concussed again.
"I worked hard to get back, and tried everything, but it still wasn't right. Ultimately, it was too much of a risk at this stage of my career to try and play on.
"For me, it's been a privilege to play for Gloucester. Watching the team as a youngster, having my family around me, it's made it a special experience."
Gloucester rugby director Nigel Davies led the tributes to 35-year-old Hazell.
"He's a true servant, a true warrior," Davies said.
"He represents everything that is good about Gloucester, about the club and what it stands for. He's put his body on the line time and time again for the cause.
"It's a sad day to see him retiring. It was probably always at the back of his mind that this might be his last season, and he would have wanted to play a few more games, but he has given everything to the club."