'It's been epic': Jon Walters announces retirement

By Michelle McGlynn

Jon Walters has announced his retirement this afternoon.

In a short statement posted to his social media accounts, the 35-year-old said that "my Achilles heel has literally been my Achilles heel and finished me off".

The Ireland and Burnley player summed up his career as "epic" as colleagues and fans paid tribute.

He was on-loan at Ipswich when he suffered a partially-ruptured Achilles tendon after coming on as a substitute in a goalless draw against Bolton in the Sky Bet Championship last September.

Qualified to play for the Republic through his Irish mother, Merseyside-born Walters scored 14 goals in 54 international appearances and played at Euro 2012 and Euro 2016.

He made his senior debut against Norway in November 2010 and was named Senior International Player of the Year for 2015. His last Ireland cap came in a 4-1 defeat to Wales last year.

Last night he shared a throwback photo of him training alongside Robbie Keane, Richard Dunne, Stephen Kelly, Stephen Ward and Damien Duff in 2011.

Ireland manager Mick McCarthy led the tributes to Walters saying that he was a well-liked and well-respected player.

"I'm kind of sad that I'm not getting to work with him," McCarthy said from Victoria Stadium where the Ireland team are preparing for tomorrow's match against Gibraltar.

"I wish him well with whatever he goes on to do - I don't know if he's going into coaching or management, he's got time to think about that."

Seamus Coleman said that Walters was an "inspirational player" and that he will be remembered as an Irish legend.

"He was an inspiration all around, the standards he set every day in training," said Coleman.

He added that Walters "nearly carried" the team to the Euros in 2016 saying he will be remembered for his two crucial goals against Bosnia.

Former Republic of Ireland international Kevin Kilbane said that Walters was "the one you could rely on to go in and do a job and do exactly what the manager would have expected from him".

Kilbane said that Walters was crucial to the success that Martin O'Neill enjoyed early in his tenure citing him as the key player in Ireland's campaign for Euro 2016.

He had the personality, he had the character and he had the game to back it all up and that's why it is such a shame.

People have been taking to social media to share memories and wish the veteran forward well for the future.

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