England and Northampton Saints hooker Dylan Hartley has announced his retirement from all rugby due to an ongoing knee injury.
The 33-year-old Hartley was injured 11 months ago and has been unable to recover from the troublesome knee knock that has kept him out of action for both club and country throughout 2019.
Hartley retires as England’s second most capped player with 97 Test appearances and also played 251 times for Northampton in a 15-year club career. In 2016, he was named England captain and under his leadership the team embarked upon a record-equalling 18-game winning run.
‘The last few months have been difficult for me both mentally and physically as I’ve come to terms with the fact that I am no longer able to compete, but I have to thank all the staff at Saints who have all invested so much time in helping me with my rehabilitation,’ he said.
‘I have loved my journey in rugby. I came to England as a teenager hoping to get a few games of rugby and to see the world. I could have never predicted that one day I’d play 14 years for such a special club and go on to represent and captain England.’
Hartley’s career was marred with controversy, as he was suspended for 60 weeks of his playing career, most notably for abusing referee Wayne Barnes in the Premiership final in 2013 that caused him to miss the British & Irish Lions tour and a headbutt on Jamie George that resulted in him missing the 2015 World Cup.
‘My career wasn’t perfect, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I’m privileged to have experienced some amazing highs while there have also been some personal lows, all of which are powerful experiences that will stay with me forever. The final chapter of my career was supposed to go a different way, but that is the nature of professional sport.
As England most-capped hooker and second most-capped men’s player of all time, Hartley’s international career spanned well over a decade.
A tribute to former England captain @DylanHartley, who has announced his retirement from professional rugby.
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) November 7, 2019
Photo: David Rogers/Getty