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Vickery hails Sheridan

England's 2007 World Cup captain Phil Vickery has hailed his former international colleague and fellow front-row warrior Andrew Sheridan as a player who could win games "single-handedly."

Sheridan has retired from rugby with immediate effect, his management company James Grant announced on Tuesday.

The 34-year-old ex-England and British and Irish Lions prop has failed to recover from a neck injury suffered last season which required surgery in February.

The Toulon forward won 40 England caps, including starting the 2007 World Cup final against South Africa in Paris alongside Vickery, and made two Lions Test match appearances in 2009.

The Australian front-row particularly felt the full force of his scrummaging quality, being on the receiving end more than once, but notably during a 2007 World Cup quarter-final clash in Marseille when England won and he was named man-of-the-match.

Sheridan featured in all seven games during that World Cup campaign, which culminated in England losing 15-6 to the Springboks at Stade de France.

" The thing for me with Andrew is that he always made me smile inside," Vickery told Press Association Sport.

"I loved captaining him.

"I hear people all the time using the words world-class, and Andrew was world-class because whoever he played against I knew the opposition had to talk about him and had to have a plan to deal with him. That's someone who is world-class.

"I am privileged to have played with him. He won England a lot of games under me single-handedly, particularly at Rugby World Cup 07.

"I think the 2007 quarter-final was a very special moment, undoubtedly, as was the semi-final against France. He was phenomenal throughout the whole tournament.

"He set the standards. I think his professionalism was superb. He was an amazing ball carrier, and he had such strength and power, allied to his ability at scrum time.

"It didn't matter what team you were playing against in the world, he was someone they had to talk about, and I think that it is a measure of how good he was. He would eat you alive on the field."

In a statement posted on their official website, James Grant said: "James Grant has announced today that their client Andrew Sheridan has retired from rugby with immediate effect on medical grounds.

"Andrew, 34, has failed to recover from the neck injury he sustained last season playing for Toulon and the subsequent operation he underwent, back in February.

"Capped 40 times by England and twice by the British and Irish Lions, Andrew will now focus on completing his qualifications in wine before looking to forge a new career in the trade."

Sheridan joined Toulon in 2012 after nine years with Aviva Premiership club Sale Sharks, helping them win the league title and European Challenge Cup following spells at Richmond and Bristol.

The 6ft 5in Dulwich College product made his England debut against Canada in 2004, and he was then selected for the Lions tour to New Zealand six months later, playing in five midweek matches, but no Tests.

"He is a great guy," Vickery added.

"I love his character, I love the way he is. He is someone who left a real with impression with me.

"I love Andrew for the fact there is more to life than just rugby, and now I am looking for him to make me a Raging Bull (the name of Vickery's clothing company) wine!"

Sheridan's retirement means just three members of England's 2007 World Cup final starting XV are still playing professional rugby - Leicester back Mathew Tait, Sale wing Mark Cueto and Harlequins number eight Nick Easter.

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