Xavier Garbajosa , a Heineken Cup winner with Toulouse in 2003, has been forced to call time on his illustrious playing career.
Former Heineken Cup winner Xavier Garbajosa has called time on his illustrious career. The ex-Toulouse star has informed his current employers at Bayonne that his latest injury problems have forced him to retire after 12 years on the top class scene.
Now 32, Garbajosa won 31 caps for France and played 37 Heineken Cup games for Toulouse, helping the French club win the European title for the second time in 2003. Equally at home at full back, centre or wing, he made his Heineken Cup debut for his home town team Toulouse against London Wasps on 26 October, 1996.
He switched to Bayonne in 2007 and made three appearances for his new club in the European Challenge Cup. But knee problems have struck once again and brought a premature end to the careers of one of the greatest attacking talents of the professional era.
A World Junior Champion with France in 1995, Garbajosa made his French debut as a substitute against Ireland in 1998. he then went on to score two tries against Wales at Wembley to help the French complete a Grand Slam.
He scored two tries in six outings at the 1999 Rugby World Cup and figured at full back in the epic semi-final victory over New Zealand at Twickenham. He also started at No 15 against Australia in the final at the Millennium Stadium.
He made two appearances in France's 2002 Grand Slam campaign and was a started in all nine games for Toulouse as they stormed Europe to win the Heineken Cup in 2003. He made his final international appearance against England in a warm-up match before the 2003 Rugby World Cup finals, a tournament he was forced to miss because of a thigh muscle injury.
"Rugby has been part of my everyday life for the past 17 years. I am frustrated my career has had to end this way, but I have no regrets," Garbajosa told the Sud Ouest newspaper.
"I dream at night about playing, but deep down inside I know my playing career is now over. I need to step aside to give the younger players a chance, although I will do continue to work to help Bayonne.
"This is the end to a beautiful chapter of my life."