Trimble, 33, is following fellow wing veteran Tommy Bowe in his decision to bow out when Ulster play their last game of 2017-18, which seems set to be a Guinness PRO14 play-off against Ospreys later this month to determine which club takes the league’s final place in next season’s Champions Cup pool draw.
Between 2005 and 2017, Trimble won 70 caps for Ireland, scoring 17 tries while his Ulster career saw him make a record 229 appearances and 77 tries for his native province over 13 seasons.
Adept in the centre as well on the wing, Trimble appeared at both the 2007 and 2011 World Cups and was a pivotal member of Joe Schmidt’s squad which claimed the 2014 Six Nations title, his contribution recognised when he picked up the player of the championship award that season.
He missed the 2015 World Cup with a long-term foot injury but that was not the end of a glittering Ireland career and Trimble will also go down as one of the heroes of Soldier Field, the team which took down world champions New Zealand 40-29 in Chicago in November 2016, the first Irish victory over the All Blacks in 111 years of attempting the feat.
His final minutes in Test rugby came the following February with an appearance off the bench in the 19-9 Six Nations home win over France.
Trimble made his announcement, not with a poem as Bowe had done when making his decision to retire earlier in the campaign, but by publishing an open letter on the Ulster and IRFU websites yesterday.
“I know that I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have realised not one of my dreams, but two of them; to play for Ulster and to play for Ireland,” he wrote.
These have been some of the most fulfilling days of my life and I feel nothing but gratitude for them.
“But there’s no way of stopping time — and I see that each day in the lives of my two young children, who are now close to beating me over five metres.
“So I wanted to let you know that this will be my last season playing professional rugby.
“I want to thank the club for allowing me the space to think things through before making what is probably the toughest decision that any professional sportsman will make.
“Most of all, I want to thank you — the loyal and dedicated supporters of this special club. I know that nothing will come close to the experience of taking the field and hearing you raise your voices in support of the team.
“You stood up for me; I only hope that I stood up for you.”