“Although we suffered a loss, we still emerged as winners…” – Johnny Sexton issues emotional retirement statement as he bids farewell to his rugby career…

Ireland’s esteemed captain bid farewell to his rugby career on Instagram following the recent Rugby World Cup defeat to New Zealand, marking the end of a remarkable journey that encompassed 119 appearances for Ireland, over 1,000 points scored, four Six Nations championships with Ireland, and four Champions Cup titles with Leinster.

Sexton reflected on the challenging nature of retirement, particularly in the wake of the intense emotional rollercoaster he experienced during the past few weeks in France.

He expressed lingering feelings of sadness and frustration over their inability to advance further in the tournament but emphasized the overwhelming sense of pride he felt playing alongside such dedicated and talented teammates.

He fondly regarded them as the best group he had the privilege of being part of, both on and off the field, and it is the thought of leaving these exceptional individuals and coaches that makes retirement such a difficult decision.

The retired athlete conveyed his deep appreciation for the incredible sensation of playing in front of a passionate Irish crowd, which he experienced in Bordeaux, Nantes, and Paris on those unforgettable Saturdays.

He extended gratitude to his teammates from both Leinster and Ireland, emphasizing the enjoyment of his final season and the unique bond he shared with those who will remain a part of his life.

Sexton also expressed his thanks to the teachers, coaches, and support staff who nurtured his career from the early days in Bective, St. Mary’s College, and his club and school, spanning over three decades.

He acknowledged the unwavering support from fans of Leinster, Racing, the British & Irish Lions, and Ireland, and recognized their faith and dedication throughout his journey.

The retiring player conveyed his deep appreciation for his family, particularly his parents, brothers, and sister, who instilled his love for the game and his determination, and without whom he couldn’t have undertaken this remarkable journey.

Finally, he expressed his excitement about the upcoming chapter with his wife Laura and their children, attributing his inspiration to their unwavering love and support, especially during the highs and lows of life. One of his proudest moments was playing while his children watched on.

Sexton concluded by reflecting on a conversation four years ago with the squad, where they set out to inspire the nation. Despite the loss in the World Cup, he believed they had achieved that goal, emphasizing that they might have lost the game, but they truly won the hearts of their supporters and the nation as a whole. ☘️

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