Legends pay tribute to Andrew Trimble, one of Ulster's finest ever players
Two Ulster greats led the tributes to Andrew Trimble in the wake of yesterday's announcement of his retirement.
Andy Ward and Stephen Ferris both spoke of their admiration for the 33-year-old winger who revealed his departure from the professional game yesterday.
Both readily agreed that Trimble, Ulster's most capped player, has been a magnificent servant to the province and that he was one of the leading operators in his position where he also amassed 70 caps for Ireland.
"When he was at his peak he was right up there as a great finisher," said Ward.
"He's had a momentous career and got as far as he possibly could and that's all anyone looks to do. All in all, a cracking player."
Ferris agreed and emphasised his former team-mate's powerful running and hard hitting.
"Trimby was very, very physical," Ferris stated.
"He didn't really have a Shane Williams side-step or anything like that.
"He went straight and hard and was just a very dynamic and powerful winger and, in the modern game, that's what you're looking for."
Ferris reckons that Trimble was a world-class operator when playing at his optimum and showed his immense value when part of Ireland's Six Nations title-winning side in 2014.
"Trimby, when he was on form, was one of the best wingers in the world," said the former flanker.
"Look at the amount of faith (Ireland coach) Joe Schmidt had in him.
"He was somebody who gave everything to Ulster and Ireland both on and off the field."
Ward said: "He's been fantastic and he'll be missed but that's the nature of the beast, everything comes to an end at some point."
Ferris feels that Trimble has chosen his moment carefully to walk away from the game.
"One thing for me which is quite sad is that he's possibly not going to get an opportunity like Tommy Bowe or Paul Marshall to say goodbye (by playing) and for fans to thank him."
Trimble signed off with a moving open letter which included a typically amusing reference to his admission that it was time to go.
"There's no way of stopping time - and I see that each day in the lives of my two young children, who are now close to beating me over five metres," he joked.
"I want to thank the club for allowing me the time and space to think things through before making what is probably the toughest decision that any professional sportsman will make.
"Most of all, I want to thank you - the loyal and dedicated supporters of this special club.
"You stood up for me; I only hope that I stood up for you."
Many paid tribute on social media, including Irish legend Brian O'Driscoll who referenced his open letter with, "What a line in his retirement letter to the supporters."
Team-mate Darren Cave tweeted: "What an absolute LEGEND."
Former Ulster team-mate Dan Tuohy weighed in with: "When this lad hit you, you stayed hit for about a week."
Ulster Operations Director Bryn Cunningham - a former team-mate - said: "He has delivered some incredible performances and he can be justifiably proud of his playing career.
"I know that Andrew will be successful in whatever career he chooses next, and I wish him, Anna, Jack and Molly well in this new chapter for them."
Shane Logan, Ulster Chief Executive, added: "Andrew has been an inspiration for so many young players due to his uncompromising playing style but also his kind nature and infectious personality."