Leicester Tigers hooker Jimmy Stevens has announced his retirement from professional rugby.
The 29-year-old, who has been unsuccessful in his attempt to return to the top-flight since suffering concussion in the 2018/19 season, has made the decision to call time on his career on the advice of medical experts.
A Tigers Academy graduate, Stevens made his senior debut for the club in 2012 and earned England age-group recognition during his first spell in Leicester before playing for London Irish and Nottingham.
In the summer of 2018, Stevens returned to Welford Road and has made 11 appearances for Tigers since debuting as a 20-year-old.
“All I knew from a fairly young age is that I wanted to play rugby, whether that was playing for St. Ives with my brothers or being lucky enough to play the game professionally"Jimmy Stevens
Tigers head coach Geordan Murphy admitted it was disappointing to see Stevens leave the game under these circumstances.
“You never want to see a player have the decision to retire made for them and I speak for everybody at Leicester Tigers when I say it’s disappointing to see Jimmy call time on his career,” said Murphy.
“Jimmy is Tigers through-and-through and when he returned to the club two years ago, we were excited to have not only the player but also the person back in Leicester.
“From his early days in the Tigers Academy, while away at Irish and Nottingham and since coming back, Jimmy has always given everything on and off the pitch and represents the kind of player and person we believe are important in Leicester.
“We wish him all the best in his next chapter and will continue to support Jimmy however he needs, as well as hopefully seeing him back in the Welford Road stands next season and beyond.”
Stevens admitted he was “gutted” to be retiring but accepted the decision.
“I’m gutted to be retiring, but I have to take the recommended advice from the health professionals,” he said. “I’ll miss enjoying a good win with my mates and socialising with them after.”
“All I knew from a fairly young age is that I wanted to play rugby, whether that was playing for St. Ives with my brothers or being lucky enough to play the game professionally.”
The Tigers forward also thanked his family for their assistance in helping him achieve what he has during his career.
“First of all I’d like to acknowledge my parents, they supported me throughout my career and I wouldn’t have achieved what I have without them. I’d also like to thank my two older brothers who helped from an early age,” added Stevens.
“Thanks to all the fans for the support throughout my career, I’m sure in the not so distant future you’ll be repaid for your unwavering support with some more success.
The 29-year-old will now pursue opportunities away from the game, including interests in property development and construction.
“Property development and construction is something I’ve always been interested in,” Stevens said.
“My dad and eldest brother are in the industry so I’ve always been around it.”