“It is still hard for me to get my head around the fact that I will not be pulling a jersey on again after October. “While the blue of Leinster and the green of Ireland stand out for most people, nothing would have been possible without the solid foundations built on Saturday and Sunday mornings in Wexford Wanderers, then nurtured in Clongowes and of course in later years in Lansdowne. “Throughout it all, I have been honoured to have played with an array of talented players, be coached by great coaches and to have played for the best supporters in the world.” Looking ahead to the World Cup – Ireland’s opening game is against Canada in Cardiff on September 19 – D’Arcy said he hoped to help his country make a mark. Ireland have never progressed beyond the World Cup quarter-final stage, but they are fancied by many as possible finalists this time around. “It has always been an honour to represent my country,” he added. “I hope to continue that over the coming months and help to achieve something with this very special group of players and staff at the Rugby World Cup.” And reflecting on his time with Leinster, D’Arcy said: “Leinster will always hold a special place in my heart – my first and only club. “Since my debut in 1998 against Llanelli, it has been a privilege to be part of this organisation and to see how it has grown over the years. “As part of that journey I have seen dark days, but the abiding memory is of a club and an organisation that wouldn’t settle for mediocrity and only wanted to be the best. “At home or away, we took on the giants of European rugby and we had great days. I am proud to have played a small part in that evolution. “In an ideal world I would have loved to have been bowing out after a Champions Cup final and, who knows, maybe even a PRO12 Final, but unfortunately as players we have not achieved the targets that we set ourselves at the start of the season, in particular in the league. “That’s life, and that’s sport at the very highest level. “However, I have no doubt that Leinster is in the best possible hands with Matt (O’Connor) and Leo (Cullen) at the helm, and our recent performance in the Champions Cup semi-final reminded me just what this club and this team is capable of. “I am looking forward to supporting and enjoying the continued success of Leinster over the coming years. “That being said, I will genuinely miss being a Leinster and Irish rugby player. I have loved every moment of it.” D’Arcy helped Ireland win a Six Nations Grand Slam in 2009 and the Six Nations title last season. During the majority of his international career he forged an outstanding midfield partnership with Brian O’Driscoll, a player that D’Arcy will now follow into retirement once the World Cup is done and dusted. D’Arcy, meanwhile, has made 260 Leinster appearances since being handed a debut in September 1998, with his provincial career being highlighted by Heineken Cup final triumphs in 2009, 2011 and 2012. In his letter, D’Arcy said: “Had the result in Marseille nearly two weeks ago gone our way (Leinster were beaten 25-20 by European Champions Cup semi-final opponents Toulon), this week could have been a lot different. “But unfortunately it isn’t, so I am taking this opportunity to announce that I will be retiring from professional rugby at the end of October. “It is a decision that I have not come to lightly, but one that sits very easily with me and indeed with my wife, Aoife, and we are confident that I am making the decision for the right reasons. “My decision has always been that I would leave at this time – after the Rugby World Cup 2015 – and I would like to thank Leinster Rugby and the IRFU (Irish Rugby Football Union) for their support in facilitating this process, which began last summer. “I am so proud, fortunate and honoured to have represented my province and country for 17 seasons, but I am leaving on my terms, which is how everyone would wish to end their professional rugby careers. Press Association D’Arcy, 35, posted an open letter revealing the decision on Leinster’s official website. The Leinster star has won 81 Ireland caps, scoring seven tries, while he also toured with the British and Irish Lions to New Zealand in 2005 and South Africa four years later. Ireland centre Gordon D’Arcy has announced that he will retire from professional rugby after the World Cup later this year.