LONDON (Reuters) - Former Wales captain Sam Warburton has retired from rugby union at the age of 29 after failing to return to peak fitness following neck and knee surgery, the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) said on Wednesday.
Flanker Warburton, who was capped 74 times by his country and played five tests for the British and Irish Lions, led Wales in a record 49 matches.
He recently returned to pre-season training with his club Cardiff Blues.
"Unfortunately, after a long period of rest and rehabilitation the decision to retire from rugby has been made with my health and wellbeing as a priority as my body is unable to give me back what I had hoped for on my return to training," Warburton told the WRU website http://www.wru.wales/eng/news/41083.php#.W08cMdUzZyw.
Warburton led Wales to the 2012 Six Nations title and at two World Cups. His last match was the Lions' test draw against the All Blacks in June, 2017.
"I cannot thank the Welsh Rugby Union and Cardiff Blues enough, who have gone beyond the call of duty, in providing the support I received to help me get back on the field, for which I will be forever grateful," Warburton added.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)