James Mortimer 15.Nov.2011Getty Images
The announcement was made by London Wasps, the club that spawned the tenacious flanker when signing him to their academy as a 16-year-old in 1993, and he hangs up his boots after playing over 300 games for the side.
Worsley’s highest achievement remains his World Cup win in 2003, but with Wasps he won two Heineken Cups, four Premierships, as well as two Powergen Clubs (contested between the English Premiership sides and Welsh regions).
The Wasps legend also played 78-tests for his country, represented the British and Irish Lions and Barbarians, and was awarded an MBE for his Webb Ellis win alongside current English coach Martin Johnson.
Worsley said that despite his best attempts, it was time to give up a decorated career.
"Last season I suffered an injury to my neck that has effectively ended my career,” he said.
“Since March I have been following medical and rehab advice but it didn't help, and restarting contact work during the England World Cup Camp made it obvious that I could not continue.
"My life as a rugby player started at Welwyn under 9s and finished in an England training session - I want to say thanks to everyone who helped me on that path. I'm proud of what I achieved and how I played the game."
London Wasps Owner Steve Hayes paid tribute to a club stalwart.
"Joe is a real legend at this Club and we are all very sad to see his playing days come to an end. He has been a fantastic servant to Wasps and played a huge role in much of the Club’s success,” he said.
"He also was a superb representative on the international stage, becoming a key figure for England and inspiring many budding young players with his tenacious back-row play. He will leave big boots to fill and we wish him all the very best as he moves on with the next stage of his life. I hope that we will still see him regularly around Adams Park and he knows he is welcome back here anytime."