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Michael Owen forced to retire from rugby
Scrum.com
July 2, 2010
Michael Owen has been forced to retire © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Michael Owen
Teams: Dragons | Saracens | Wales

Former Wales, British & Irish Lions and Saracens No.8 Michael Owen has announced his retirement from rugby after struggling with a persistent knee injury.

The 29-year-old won 41 caps for Wales and took over the captaincy midway through their 2005 Grand Slam season after Gareth Thomas was injured. His final cap came in Wales' nail-biting 2007 World Cup defeat to Fiji.

"It is with a heavy heart that I have had to retire from rugby but I am really proud of my achievements." Owen told BBC Sport. "I felt I had more to give, but it's not to be and I had to listen to my body. It's clear I can't carry on."

Owen began his career at Pontypridd and became Wales' 1,000th capped international during the tour of South Africa in 2002 under Steve Hansen.

He then joined Newport Gwent Dragons when Welsh rugby's regional era was born in 2003 and briefly took over the national captaincy after Thomas was injured as Wales beat France on their way to the 2005 Grand Slam. He also went on the ill-fated Lions tour to New Zealand, returning home briefly for the birth of his second daughter having earlier led the side against Argentina in Cardiff.

He left the Dragons to join Guinness Premiership club Saracens at the start of the 2008-09 season, but injuries halted his ambition to return to the international fold.

Owen suffered the first of a series of knee injuries on New Years' Day 2009 but returned at the start of the 2009-10 season. In October, however, he suffered a further injury set-back against Toulon in the Amlin Challenge Cup and has been forced to quit after failing to recover.

"When I look back on my career there are probably two periods that really stick out," he said. "The eight month period that I played with Pontypridd early on in my career when we won the Welsh Cup and got to the Parker Pen final. I managed to go on and play for Wales 'A' and got my first cap in South Africa. Then obviously the time with Wales that included the Grand Slam and we also beat Australia the autumn after."

Although retirement marks the end of a career for a player widely admired for his footballing ability and deft handling skills, Owen plans to return to rugby in one capacity or another.

"I would like to go into coaching and go back to university and complete a Masters in Business Studies to give me the opportunity to work in rugby either on the field or off the field," he said. "I would love to give something back to the game especially in Wales in the future. It is a unique rugby environment, I have a good understanding of how it works and I would love to be involved in making Wales the best team in the world."

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