Wasps today confirm that vice-captain Chris Bell has sadly been forced to retire from rugby with immediate effect, due to a shoulder injury picked up earlier this season.
The England Saxons centre made 80 appearances for Wasps and captained the club in the 2013/14 season, leading Wasps back into the top flight of Europe after a three-year absence.
Bell’s professional rugby career started at Harlequins and he went on to represent Leeds and Sale Sharks before joining Wasps in 2011. In a career spanning 14 years, Chris has played 183 Premiership games and made 275 appearances in total, as well as representing England at U16, U18, U19, U21 and Saxons level.
He also helped to steer Leeds to the first Powergen Cup trophy in the club’s history, scoring a try in the 2005 Twickenham Final.
Bell is one the most popular characters in the game and is admired throughout the Aviva Premiership for his professionalism, honesty and strong work ethic.
Chris Bell said: "I am immensely disappointed that I have had to retire due to injury, however I am grateful to have had the experience of professional rugby. I have made some great friends, played alongside and against some amazing players and played at some incredible stadiums.
“I would like to thank Quins, Leeds, Sale and Wasps supporters for making me feel so welcome, as well as all players and staff I have worked with. The biggest thank you goes to my family for their support and encouragement.
"At this stage I’m not sure what the future holds. While it's slightly daunting and a change to professional sport, I look forward to the new challenge ahead and will embrace it like any challenge we’re used to confronting on the pitch."
Wasps’ Director of Rugby Dai Young said: "Chris is such a tough character, we knew it must be a serious injury to stop him in his tracks and alarm bells started to ring when he wasn’t back within a few weeks. Unfortunately it has turned out to be an injury that has ended his career.
"From a personal perspective, I would like to thank Chris for everything he has done in support of Wasps, the squad and the coaching team. Since I’ve been at Wasps, Chris has played a massive part in helping me move the club forward, through his performances on the field and his commitment to help raise standards off it.
"As a captain and vice-captain, Chris has always been hugely supportive. He set the right standards and pushed the group hard to achieve bigger and better things.
"Chris is a fantastic role model. He sets the perfect example of how to behave as a professional rugby player and I believe he will leave a big hole and some massive shoes to fill, both on and off the field. It is hard to speak highly enough of Chris, because he has been absolutely fantastic for Wasps as a player, captain and leader within the group.
"We wish Chris and his family the very best for the future. I’m absolutely sure he will make a success of whatever he decides to do next, because you won’t meet a more honest, hard-working, professional and committed guy than him."