Monday 24 October 2016

'A special talent' - Leo Cullen leads tributes for retired Luke Fitzgerald

Harry Clarke

Published 28/06/2016 | 11:25

Luke Fitzgerald has retired from professional rugby due to injury

Leinster coach Leo Cullen has described Luke Fitzgerald as one of the "greatest wingers to represent Ireland and Leinster" following his retirement from the game.

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Fitzgerlad, 28, was advised to retire on medical grounds after suffering a neck injury in the Guinness PRO12 final against Connacht last month.

Cullen said: "I actually coached Luke before I ever became a team mate of his, when I helped out with the Blackrock College Senior team in 2004. Although I spent the majority of my time with the forwards, you could clearly see even then as a fourth year, that Luke was a special talent.

"I was lucky enough to have played with Luke from 2007 until I retired in 2014 and have spent the last couple of seasons coaching him.

"We are all gutted here at Leinster to hear that Luke has had to retire from the game. He has had an incredible career achieving almost everything there is to achieve in rugby. He will go down as one of the greatest wingers to have represented Leinster and Ireland.

"We will miss him greatly but we wish him every success in the next phase of his life. He will be a tremendous asset to wherever he focusses his efforts.

"We look forward to welcoming Luke and his family to the RDS in the season and the seasons ahead."

Sports stars around Ireland have paid tribute to Fitzgerald.

Kerry footballer Darran O'Sullivan tweeted: "Gutted @lukefitz11 has had to retire early, got no luck when it came to injuries but a class act on & off the pitch."

And fellow footballer, Dublin's Michael Darragh Macauley, highlighted the fickle nature of sport and the danger injuries pose to athletes.

"A stark reminder of the fickleness of a sporting career. Still an unbelievable career congrats @lukefitz11 enjoy next chapter," said Macauley.

Former Ireland international Gordon D'Arcy added: "Loved playing with this guy @lukefitz11 best left foot step in the business & all-round great guy! Enjoy retirement."  

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