And after putting an end to a glittering 15-year career that saw him lift the World Cup and run out for the British & Irish Lions Vickery insisted he had no regrets despite facing years of care on his injured body.
"This time I knew something wasn't right. I am not scared of pain but the pain level was more than before," said Vickery. "Even now just sitting, driving in the car, trying to sleep at night is painful.
"I sneezed earlier and thought someone had stabbed me in the back of the head. I know I can't carry on like this.
"There will be no more operations. It is going to need a lifetime of maintenance now, it is not just week to week and month to month.
"I have never been under any illusions as to what you put your body through. Do I want to know what I will be like in later life? Probably not.
"Rugby has given me everything in my life. It has been a dream run. I look back with real happiness and it's been amazing.
"Through the sad times, the injuries and the setbacks, my desire and passion for the game has never wavered.
"The more I look back and think about it the more I think what I've done is fantastic and I have a lot of fond memories but, of course, it's sad.
"As well as Wasps, I will miss playing for England dearly. To be able to stand on a rugby field and sing our national anthem was truly brilliant, an amazing experience and one which I have never taken for granted."