Harlequins, England and British and Irish Lion winger Ugo Monye has announced today (Monday 23rd March) that he will retire from rugby at the end of the current season.
Commenting on the announcement, the 31 year-old said: "It is a decision that I have been thinking about for a long time and one that I haven’t taken lightly. I have had an unbelievable 13 years here at Quins and look back on my career with no regrets. I can honestly say that the one thing I am most proud of is that I have been a one-club man, in a game that is ever changing and I am excited to be staying on at the Club after my retirement in a different capacity.
"To go onto play for the club I supported as a boy and to achieve my childhood dream of following in the footsteps of some of the sport’s greatest players like Jason Leonard, Will Greenwood and Zinzan Brooke and to wear the Harlequins jersey has been amazing.
"I would like to thank the Club, and in particular the coaches and all the back room staff, for giving me this opportunity and standing by me. Harlequins helped develop me as a rugby player and a person – and I truly believe that I have only been able to achieve what I have done because of the great Club I am at.
"I’d also like to thank Harlequins owners Charles and Duncan for their continued support and ambition for the Club. The progress made by the sport has been swift and it continues to develop at a pace and they have been there throughout. Their confidence and belief in us has filtered down through the coaching staff to the players and for that we are hugely grateful.
"Playing alongside some of my best mates has given me some of the greatest experiences of my life. It has been amazing playing, winning and even losing alongside some of the best players and friends. I am excited about the future of these players and look forward to seeing the development of a number of the Academy players and guys who are now breaking into the first team. I can’t wait to watch their progress on the professional scene.
"Last but not least I have to pay tribute to all the supporters who accepted me as a schoolboy and have stood by me through all the good and bad times. They have cheered for me and it has no doubt made me the proud Harlequin I am today, and will always be."
London born and bred and a Harlequin to the very core, Monye personifies loyalty having made 237 appearances in his 13 illustrious years for the Club.
Since making his club debut, scoring a brace of tries against Wasps in 2002, Ugo has been an integral part of Harlequins’ recent history. He is the perfect role model for any aspiring rugby player and is an inspirational mentor to many of the junior members in the senior and Academy Harlequins squads.
Off the field, Ugo is the ultimate professional and a true credit to both Harlequins and the sport of rugby.
During his career, the winger, who was one of the first players to graduate from the Harlequins Academy, has helped the club to four senior titles; the European Challenge Cup in 2004 and 2011, the 2012 Aviva Premiership and the 2013 LV= Cup.
Ugo’s international record is equally impressive having won the 2003 Hong Kong 7s and the Churchill Cup in 2005 and 2008 with the Saxons. In 2008 he made the first of his 14 Test appearances for England and in 2009 toured with the British and Irish Lions to South Africa, scoring the famous interception try in the third Test victory.
Harlequins Director of Rugby Conor O’Shea commented: "All involved with Harlequins will miss Ugo once he retires but I know he will be around the club in some capacity for many years to come. In my time here two things stick out to show his unwavering commitment and professionalism to the only Club he has ever played for. The first was when he was offered twice the money we were offering to join a top French club but he turned it down to be with the Club he always dreamt of playing for.
"My second memory will be how he got back on the field for our Aviva Premiership title win in 2012. He tore his hamstring but within four weeks and against all medical expectation he got himself back on the pitch and played the full eighty minutes. To those who knew him and what he had gone through to get on the pitch, they will know he only had one leg fully right but nothing was keeping him out, and Ugo's presence alone on a pitch is enough in how he motivates and inspires.
"He will be missed but he will always be one of the true greats of this Club, and also one of the great ambassadors of the game."
Ugo is set to play his final matches at The Stoop for Harlequins against Gloucester Rugby on Saturday 11th April and Bath Rugby on Friday 8th May. You can be at both matches to give Ugo and the other leavers the perfect send-off. To purchase tickets, please click here or call 020 8410 6010.