Northampton Saints confirmed that Steve Thompson has been forced to retire from rugby with immediate effect due to a neck injury suffered earlier this season.

Thompson injured his neck while playing for Northampton Saints in a Heineken Cup match against Biarritz Olympique.

The 28-year-old has accumulated 40 Heineken Cup caps during seven seasons of European club rugby. Thompson scored 10 Heineken Cup tries for Northampton Saints during this time, including three tries this season alone.

His club career with Northampton Saints began in 2000 with a dream rookie season when the Saints lifted thhe Heineken Cup defeating Munster 9-8 in a gripping final in the Millennium Stadium.

The renowned hooker has achieved just about everything in his sport – a World Cup winners’ medal, a Grand Slam, a Heineken Cup winners’ medal with Northampton, and a Lions second test appearance in New Zealand in 2005.