Powergen Cup-winning hero Chris Bell has been forced to retire from the game following a shoulder injury picked up earlier this season.

Wasps today confirm that vice-captain Bell has sadly been forced to retire from rugby with immediate effect.

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.

Bell joined Leeds Tykes on a two-year contract from NEC Harlequins at the end of the 2003-2004 season. An impressive centre, Bell burst onto the scene with Quins but had been watched for several seasons by Phil Davies as he progressed through the lower levels with England and the Tykes coach was delighted to have captured him for the 2004-2005 season.

He made his debut in the opening game of the season against Gloucester and went on to be one of the top performers in his debut season. His first try came against Sale Sharks when Albanese set up Bell in the second half to score the Tykes only try of the game.

Another of his crucial tries came in the Powergen Cup semi final, when he opened the scoring for the Tykes with a first half try to take Leeds to their first Twickenham final. In the final he was once against a hero, putting in an incredible display by scoring a try to help the Tykes win the Powergen Cup for the first time in their history.

Injury kept Chris out for the start of the 2005-06 season but he returned to make 11 appearances and scored two tries. He left at the end of that season, following the Tykes relegation from the Premiership. In total he made 31 appearances for the club and scored 8 tries.

Bell was part of the England U21 Grand Slam winning team in 2004, playing in all five matches and scoring crucial tries against Ireland and France to secure the first ever clean sweep at that level for England.

He followed this up with a crucial role in the England U21 squad in the World Championship's held in Scotland, making a try scoring appearance as captain against Argentina and also crossing against Wales. In the Summer of 2005 Chris travelled to Canada to the Churchill Cup and played a key role in Joe Lydon's side's success.

Having made his debut for Quins in 2001, Bell went on to make a further 28 appearances in the Zurich Premiership despite missing large periods of the 2002-2003 season through injury. 

He was Harlequins Young Player of the Year in the 2001-2002 season having joined them from his native Plymouth where he played for his school Ivybridge College and Plymouth Albion.

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.”