Irish rugby legend Shane Horgan has been forced to quit the game at the age of 33 due to injury.

Horgan has been unable to shake off a long term knee injury which has finally brought the curtain down on his career.

The former Meath minor footballer won three Triple Crowns and two Heineken Cups in his 13 years at the top with Leinster and Ireland.

His Ireland career spanned 65 caps and included a famous match winning try against England at Croke Park.

Horgan said: “Every professional sportsman realises that at some point their career will come to an end.

“I have been extremely fortunate to have played regularly for my province and with Ireland since my debut with Leinster in 1998 and while I am disappointed that injury has forced me to retire now, I know I have been very lucky to have had such a long and largely injury-free career.

“It has been a tremendous honour to represent my province and my country. When you first start playing sport that is the ultimate ambition but few people are lucky enough to realise it. I am just so grateful that I was given that opportunity.

“I am equally fortunate to have played at a time when Leinster and Ireland experienced such great success and alongside a group of players with unprecedented talent and ambition.

“I want to thank the IRFU and Leinster, my playing colleagues and friends in the game and the many people who helped to shape and influence my career at different points over the last 14 years.”

Leinster Coach Joe Schmidt added: “As one of the longest serving players in the professional age, Shane will no doubt go down as one of the greats of Leinster and Irish rugby.

“He was a strong leader within the group whose contribution off the field mirrored his many feats on it.

“It was great to be involved with Shane last season where his performances contributed so much to the success of the team. It was fitting that his final season culminated in a second Heineken Cup success.

“The last year has been a frustrating one for Shane with knee surgery and long periods of rehabilitation. Unfortunately, despite his best efforts, he has been unable to regain full fitness.

“It is a testament to Shane that his professionalism and influence have continued to impact positively on the group during this season.

“A born winner and resilient competitor, Shane’s retirement will no doubt leave a void in the group, but I know that his legacy of excellence and athleticism will continue to inspire future generations and we wish him all the best in the future.”

Shane Horgan speaks to the media�INPHO/Dan Sheridan