London - Two-time British & Irish Lion tourist Tom Croft announced his retirement from rugby on Thursday, declaring his decision to be a massive one as it has been his life since he left school.
The 32-year-old flanker -- capped five times by the Lions and on 40 occasions with England -- made his debut for his one and only club Leicester Tigers shortly after his 20th birthday and has won four Premiership titles with them.
However, having bounced back from a fractured vertebra in his neck in 2012 and a cruciate ligament injury in the 2013/14 campaign he has been advised to hang up his boots.
"I've played alongside and against some incredible players and made many lifelong friends in the game," said Croft, who scored two tries on his debut for the Lions against South Africa in 2009.
"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.
"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," Croft told the club website.
Leicester chief executive Simon Cohen paid a handsome tribute to Croft, who turned out more than 170 times for the Tigers.
"Crofty displayed a unique talent as one of the quickest forwards in the game," he told the club website.
"His impact when he first came into senior rugby, then when he got into the England team and in his debut tour for the Lions in 2009 said everything about an exceptional talent."