Thanks to Jonny Wilkinson Posted almost 4 years ago

Ask yourself this, why are you here? What drew you to the game? Why do you keep lacing up your boots to play or coach? Why do you keep stumping up for the price of a ticket or tuning in to watch?

For some the original driving force would have been a parent, a teacher or a coach but for many more it will have been an inspirational player who snagged and then maintained their interest.

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For a generation of players, coaches and fans in England – and beyond – that player was Jonny Wilkinson.

As he prepares for his final game before retirement, here’s my personal thanks for his contribution to the sport as a player and I fully expect his work as a coach to touch just as many people.

Thank you for that drop goal.

And the highlight of my professional career – so far.

Thank you for having the courage to ride out a catalogue of injuries that could have ended a dozen careers.

That you for that try.

Thank you for being one of the best players in the world and never letting it go to your head.

Thank you for that tackle.

Thank you for starting your career at Farnham RFC and blazing a trail that my son and hundreds of other minis at the club hope to follow.

Thank you for being the ultimate team player.

Thank you for your humility and generosity.

“I make no secret of the fact that I have been over-supported, that I have been given way too much respect. I have been given too much of an easy life compared to others who have deserved so much more and not had it. I have been very aware of that.

“I have tried to keep my feet as much as I can on the ground. Not that that shows strength on my part, just that someone is going to realise that I am a bit of a fraud in that respect. These guys here, my team-mates, are the ones who make the difference yet it is not they who got cheered at the end of the game like I was. It has been amazing.”

- Jonny Wilkinson following Toulon’s 2013-14 Heineken Cup victory over Saracens.

Thank you for that photo and the thousands of dinner party conversations my wife has delighted in ever since.

Thank you for setting the standard not only on the field but also off it with an unrivalled commitment to training.

- Jonny Wilkinson’s long-time friend and mentor Steve Black

Thank you for a thousand words in answer to each question when a dozen would do.

Thank you for convincing France there was an Englishman worth worshipping.

Thank you for repeatedly proving you were one of the world’s best when there was nothing left to prove.

What is your favourite memory of Jonny Wilkinson’s career, is it that drop goal? Share your thoughts on Jonny and his career?

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Graham Jenkins is a freelance sports journalist who has been reporting around the rugby globe for over 20 years. A former editor of the leading rugby union website, he is a veteran of five World Cups and cites England’s 2003 triumph as the most memorable moment of his professional career - closely followed by a night out with Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal.

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