- 34-year-old Andrew Sheridan has been forced to retire from rugby
- Sheridan won 40 Test caps for his country and two for the Lions
- He sought the advice of a specialist to discover if there was any hope that he might be able to continue, but was advised against doing so
- Sheridan had one season remaining on his contract with Toulon?
Chris Foy for the Daily Mail
Andrew Sheridan has been forced to retire from rugby with immediate effect on medical grounds, at the age of 34, after being advised that his damaged neck can no longer take the strain.
The man who became revered and feared as England?s scrum destroyer-in-chief ? winning 40 Test caps for his country and two for the Lions ? received the grim news in the last fortnight.
Having gone to see a specialist to discover if there was any hope that he might be able to carry on playing, he was advised against doing so.
Andrew Sheridan (centre) in action for Toulon, against Sale Sharks in Salford, England
Sheridan (poses for cameras with his son in May 2013 (left) and competes for England in 2009 (right)
SHERIDAN’S FOUR FINEST MOMENTS
Marseille marvel: His defining moment as a Test player. England shocked Australia 12-10 in the World Cup quarter-final at Stade Velodrome as Sheridan led a demolition of the opposition scrum. The image of him grappling with Matt Dunning symbolised a triumph based on power.
Wallaby conquest: The same rival nation had already suffered from the force of Sheridan?s set-piece work at Twickenham two years earlier. Al Baxter was sin-binned in the midst of a brutal ordeal and Dunning eventually left on a stretcher as England?s loosehead wrought havoc.
Victorious Lion: Sheridan gave a performance of primal aggression to help the tourists claim a consolation 28-9 win over the fearsome Springboks at Ellis Park. Having been promoted into the Lions? starting XV, the then Sale prop made a monstrous all-round impact.
Vintage Ted: Shortly before his body failed him once too often, ?Big Ted? inspired a scrum blitz by Toulon which yielded three penalty tries against Cardiff Blues. The veteran?s masterclass propelled his club into the Heineken Cup quarter-finals and they went on to retain their title.
Sheridan had one season remaining on his contract with French side Toulon, but in the summer the club began planning for the likelihood of losing him and the worst-case scenario was realised.
He had considered the possibility of looking for another club, before being given the medical orders to call time on his career.
?Big Ted? last played for Toulon in February, when he had to come off during a home Top 14 match against Biarritz at Stade Felix Mayol. Soon afterwards he had surgery on his neck, but the operation didn?t serve as a miracle cure. He had suffered an injury in the same area last November and it was apparent that he could no longer withstand the persistent problems.
An official announcement arrived on Tuesday morning from Sheridan?s management company, James Grant, confirming that he has retired in order to pursue a career in the wine trade. Since moving to France in 2012, he has been studying in order to turn a hobby into a full-time venture, and after completing qualifications he plans to become a wine buyer.
As a rugby player, Sheridan went out on a high at club level. In 2013, he was a stalwart of the multi-national Toulon team who won the Heineken Cup, beating French rivals Clermont Auvergne in the final in Dublin. And before the operation which ultimately signified the end of his career, the loosehead prop had helped put his side on course to retain their European title and finish last season with the coveted domestic prize ? the Bouclier de Brennus; as Top 14 champions.
Sheridan is tackled by Australia’s Daniel Vickerman during the Rugby World Cup quarter-final in 2007
Matt Dunning (right) goes head-to-head with Sheridan in the quarter-final of the 2007 Rugby World Cup
Prior to his move across the Channel, he spent nine seasons at Sale and was part of their Premiership- winning team of 2006. However, Sheridan?s reputation was primarily founded on his scrummaging feats on behalf of England. He was a nemesis for Australia, having reduced their set piece to rubble on his first Test start in 2005 and again in the World Cup quarter-final in 2007.
He toured with the Lions in 2005 and made two Test appearances four years later. His exploits on behalf of Toulon were so consistently impressive last year that he was touted as a contender for Warren Gatland?s Lions squad at the age of 33.
Typically of the man, he was bemused by the hype and the fuss ?seeking to dispel it himself.
?It was a great honour to play for the Lions in 2005 and 2009 and I wish them all the best, but my ambitions lie in Toulon,? he said shortly before the touring squad was announced. ?There isn?t much substance behind the suggestion I might be picked ? it?s just talk.?
Sheridan certainly wasn?t one for idle talk and he will avoid any fanfare as he steps into retirement, but he deserves acclaim. Amid all the tears, strains, breaks, ruptures and operations, he was revered and feared.
Sheridan has struggled with injury, pictured (right) with England team doctor Simon Kemp in 2007
Sheridan (second right), who represented his country in 40 tests, has been forced to retire