Emotional Vickery bows out
Former England captain Phil Vickery has been forced to follow medical advice and retire from rugby with immediate effect.
The 34-year-old prop has been in severe pain since damaging his neck while captaining Wasps against his old club Gloucester on September 25.
"I'm not afraid of fighting back or proving people wrong but there comes a stage when you have to listen and trust in the experts, and it is based on medical reasons that I have been forced to retire," said Vickery, who has won 73 England caps and made five Test appearances for the Lions.
"I will look back on my career with a lot of happy memories. I feel privileged to have been part of some amazing teams at Wasps and Gloucester, to have worked with the best coaches in the world, and to have played against and with some of the best players in the game.
"Through the sad times, the injuries and the setbacks, my desire and passion for the game has never wavered. Rugby has given me an awful lot and I still love the game. I look back with real happiness. It's been amazing.
"As well as Wasps, I will miss playing for England dearly. To be able to stand on a rugby field and sing our national anthem was truly brilliant, an amazing experience and one which I have never taken for granted."
The news has come as a major blow for Vickery, who had been targeting a place in England's World Cup squad - he played a key role in England's 2003 triumph in Australia - and wanted to extend his contract at Wasps by another year.
"My love and passion for the game is still there, which is the most disappointing thing for me - I wanted to end my career playing with Wasps," he said.
"Prior to the Gloucester game the conversations with Tony Hanks and Steve Hayes were centred on extending my contract for another year. Four or five weeks down the line and I have to stop playing, and for me that is just horrible.
"It's not a nice feeling and ultimately I'm a sportsman, so in my head it feels like admitting defeat."