Italy prop Martin Castrogiovanni retires after 15-year professional career
By Andy Charles
Last Updated: 17/12/16 6:25pm
Italy great Martin Castrogiovanni has called time on his professional rugby career after a career spanning more than 15 years and 119 caps.
Castrogiovanni arrived in Italy from Argentina in 2001 and spent his formative years in Europe playing for Calvisano.
The prop moved to Leicester in 2006 and spent seven years with the Aviva Premiership side, where he became a firm favourite with the Welford Road crowd.
He would eventually leave the Tigers in 2013 to join Toulon where he enjoyed a great deal of success, winning the European Champions Cup on two occasions.
Castrogiovanni's career continued in France with Racing 92, although he had an up and down time with his new team and was suspended after being spotted partying in Las Vegas while the team was playing in a European semi-final - he had told the club he was attending to a family matter in Argentina after not being selected.
His 119 caps for the Azzurri rate second behind back-row, and current Italy captain, Sergio Parisse, who has 121.
Castrogiovanni said in a statement: "I want to thank the Italian Rugby Federation, and above all the Italian rugby fans and fans of the national team for the extraordinary affection they have always shown me.
"I will never forget the children's enthusiasm in meetings with the players, and it is worth infinitely more than the trophies that are gathering dust in my house.
"I always tried to be myself, for better or for worse, and I hope that the Italian audience understood and appreciated it.
"I would like to thank all the Italian rugby players, one by one, for making me feel one of them since the day I arrived in Italy 15 years ago."