Saints stalwart Paul Diggin says he could not have asked more from his rugby career after announcing his decision to retire.
Diggin moved into a player-coach capacity at the start of this season and has now decided to focus all of his attention on mentoring the club’s future stars.
The 29-year-old, who is currently in his testimonial season at Franklin’s Gardens, came through the Saints Academy and went on to make 148 first-team appearances for his home town club.
He scored 62 tries during his time in the senior side and remains the only Saint to register four tries in a Heineken Cup match, the victory against Edinburgh in January, 2011.
But Diggin feels his future lies in coaching and after tweeting “148 and out” on Wednesday morning, his retirement from playing was confirmed later that day.
“I could not have asked for more from my playing career,” he said.
“I’ve played in a Heineken Cup final, helped my team win at Twickenham and have collected a number of winners’ medals.
“What has meant more to me is that this has all come at my home-town club.
“I grew up wanting to play for the Saints and to pull on the black, green and gold and run out in front of the fans at Franklin’s Gardens has been a dream come true.
“The support I’ve had from the terraces has been superb throughout my career and I’d like to thank all the Saints supporters for their backing.
“But time has to move on and I’m delighted to be a part of the Academy coaching team, working with Mark Hopley, Dusty Hare and the rest of the coaches and support staff to bring through our next generation of players.
“We’ve got some exciting talent coming through, and hopefully I can help them develop as players and know what it means to play for the Saints.”
During his time at the club, Diggin helped Saints to LV= Cup and European Challenge Cup glory as well as promotion back to the top flight and victory in the EDF Energy National Trophy.
And Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder was quick to pay tribute to the cult hero.
“Paul has always given 100 per cent regardless of whether he has been playing in the first team, Wanderers or Sevens teams,” said Mallinder.
“Every squad needs home-grown players, especially at a club like Northampton, and Paul knows exactly what the club means to himself and to the supporters in the stands.
“He has a lot of experience and knowledge that he can pass on as an Academy coach, and I’m delighted that he is staying at the club in that capacity.”