Springbok legend Bryan Habana bids goodbye to 'game made in heaven'

Story highlights

  • Bryan Habana announces retirement from rugby
  • The winger is the most capped Springbok of all time
  • He played club rugby in South Africa and France

(CNN)South African great Bryan Habana has announced his retirement from professional rugby.

The winger, part of the 2007 World Cup winning side, played 124 matches for the Springboks and scored 67 international tries -- a figure only surpassed by Japan's Daisuke Ohata.
He hasn't represented his country since November 2016, spending the past five seasons with French club side Toulon where injury struggles have kept him sidelined for extended periods.
    "At the end of this season, it's time to say goodbye and thank you to the game I so dearly love," 34-year-old said Habana on his Instagram page.
    "To try and sum up the past 16 years and how quickly they've flown by or even begin to describe how amazing the journey has been impossible.
    "For me [rugby] truly is a game made in heaven."
    Habana began his career with South African provincial side the Golden Lions in 2002.
    Armed with blistering speed and electric footwork, he quickly made his way into the Springbok test team, scoring with his first touch of the ball on his debut in 2004 against England.
    He scored 15 tries at three World Cups -- a record he shares with All Blacks great Jonah Lomu -- and also starred in South Africa's Tri-Nations victory and series win over the British and Irish Lions in 2009.
    Having represented the Bulls and the Stormers in Super Rugby, he moved to Toulon where he was part of the star-studded side that won two European titles as well as a domestic title in 2014-15.
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    After failing to recover from a knee injury this season, Habana admitted that he "would have liked my career to have ended differently.
    "It's been more than a year of hoping, trying, pushing and willing to get back on the field for one last time," he added.
    "To hear the roar of the crowd or grab the pill out the air. To make that last bone crunching tackle or score that last game winning try. But it's unfortunately just not to be."
    Able to run 100 meters in under 10.5 seconds, Habana is widely touted as one of the fastest players ever and once famously raced against a cheetah to promote wildlife conservation.