Mears forced to retire

by Michelle Fortune , 11 February 2013

Former England hooker Lee Mears has announced his retirement from professional rugby after being diagnosed with a heart condition.

Mears was found to have an abnormality during a routine cardiac screening and on the advice of his doctors he has been forced to bring his playing career to an end with immediate effect.

"There is a significant potential risk of developing further complications if Lee continues to perform the prolonged strenuous exercises required to be an elite rugby player," read a statement issued by Bath.

"He has therefore been advised by a specialist to retire from professional rugby."

Commentating on his decision to retire, Mears added: "This is not how I saw it ending but I feel enormously proud to have played for Bath so many times.

"This will be a tough period, but the memories I have and the friends I have made over the years will be of huge support. Thank you to the club and to the supporters, I've loved every minute."

Mears made his England debut against Samoa in 2005 and he went on to win 42 caps for his country before announcing his retirement from international rugby last year.

As well representing England 42 times, the 33-year-old front row was also capped in the opening Test of the British & Irish Lions' 2009 series against the Springboks.

"Lee is a legend, pure and simple. His retirement will be felt by all of us at Bath and also by the supporters who have cheered him on over the years," Bath head coach Gary Gold said.

"The only thing that matters is to be healthy and if that means he stops playing, then that's the way it has to be.

"He will be missed, but we will always welcome him back with open arms. This is his club, and it always will be. We send him off with real affection and gratitude."

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