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The lack of cartilage in his right knee has meant that the joint is operating with bone on bone creating constant swelling.
Chief Executive Officer Denis Keeffe payed tribute to a great North Queensland sportsman, ?John has been a great footballer born an bred in North Queensland , he has been one of the rocks the future success of this club has been built on, it is unfortunate that this injury has cut his career short, he will be sadly missed?.
Buttigieg, 26, was born in Townsville, has been with the Cowboys since 1995. John made his first grade debut for the Cowboys in round 13 of the competition in 1996 against the Sydney Tigers. The powerful front rower has played all of his football with the Cowboys, 101 first grade games. In 2001-2002 John played 3 games for Queensland in the State of Origin series. John has also played for the Australian Aboriginal team.
?The decision I have had to make today has been a difficult one, however the medical advice has been overpowering and in the end I was left with no alternative.? ?I have enjoyed my time here at the Cowboys and I have made many great friends, and I hope that I have contributed in some small way towards the clubs success which is just around the corner.? Buttigieg said.
Cowboys head coach, Graham Murray, said Buttigieg?s early retirement is a big blow to the club. ?In my short time here a lot of strong performances have been on the back of good go forward and willing defence from John Buttigieg.? ?We are going to miss the big man.?