A “devastated and heartbroken” Stephen Fitzgerald has announced that he is retiring from rugby when his contract expires at the end of this year.
The Connacht Rugby back is retiring after suffering a serious knee injury in January of last year while playing against Leinster.
Since then he has had three operations on the knee, but is being advised to retire on medical grounds nonetheless.
The 25 year old Fitzgerald said that said that he is “devastated and heartbroken” to be ending his rugby career this year, but that he is proud of the fight he put in to try and get back in shape.
He thanked all the medical staff who have looked after him and “always had my best interest at heart”, as well as everyone from his school days, playing with Shannon club, and beyond who has encouraged and supported him in playing at a local, provincial, and national level.
Fitzgerald first joined Connacht Rugby in 2018 after moving up from Munster, joining the back three.
He initially came to the west on a three month deal, before signing a two year contract in the summer of 2019.
During his time with Connacht, Stephen Fitzgerald appeared 18 times for the province, scoring two tries.
Fitzgerald has released the following statement regarding his retirement:
“I’m devastated and heartbroken to be finishing my career at the end of the season. The last two years have been extremely tough with three operations on my knee and unfortunately this is a battle that I’m going to lose.”
“The one thing I’m massively proud of and gives me peace of mind moving forward is knowing I have worked the hardest I ever have in my life trying to get back.”
“I’ve been lucky to have the amazing medical staff in Connacht looking after me, who all went above and beyond anything I ever expected. They always had my best interests at heart and I’ll always be grateful for their efforts.”
“Growing up I dreamed of playing rugby at the highest level. I’ve been lucky to experience this with both Munster and Connacht.
“I’m extremely grateful to all my coaches and teammates for the amazing memories from my school days with Ard Scoil, with my club Shannon, to representing my country underage and finally to playing for both Munster and Connacht.
“The thrill I got from playing in front of family, friends and fans in a packed Thomond Park or The Sportsground is like nothing I’ve experienced before.”
“I want to thank all the fans who have supported me and welcomed me with open arms along the way. Being fortunate enough to play for you and have your support is something that will always make me proud.”
“Lastly, I just want to thank everyone who has helped me get to where I am today. I’m extremely lucky to have amazing friends and family who have supported me.
“My family and girlfriend have been there for me more than they will ever realise and I just hope I’ve made them proud of what I’ve done.”
“I look forward to being a fan and enjoying getting back in the stands with ye all soon.”