HE started in York Wasps reserves back in the late 1990s, and nearly two decades later he is now calling time on one of the most illustrious pro careers in modern rugby league.

Hull FC captain Gareth Ellis, the former England, Great Britain and NRL star, has confirmed he will bring the curtain down on a glittering playing career at the end of the current Super League season - the announcement coinciding with his 450th appearance in first-grade rugby last night.

Ellis - a former Selby County Primary, Selby High and Selby College pupil - will take up a role as Hull’s football manager from 2018, replacing the departing Motu Tony.

The 36-year-old told hullfc.com: “A 19-year career in professional rugby league, launched as a teenager in 1999, has brought about a host of big decisions - moving clubs on three occasions, including a round-the-world stint in the NRL, and returning to Hull in my current five-year duty as captain.

“None of those decisions has been as big or as difficult as deciding to hang up my boots.

"But the timing is right, to bow out now while I'm able to contribute wholeheartedly on the field."

Ellis still has the double in mind, with Hull battling for a play-off place while gearing up for another Challenge Cup final, having lifted the trophy last year.

He added: "We're back at Wembley next weekend and in sight of only a second ever Grand Final. I'm determined to finish on a high and I'm dreaming of that fairytale finish.”

Ellis - whose dad Ken, a miner, had a spell in York's first team - began his rugby days as a child with Whitemoor Warriors - now Selby Warriors. He represented York Boys and joined York's old academy as a teenager, playing for the reserves before signing for Wakefield.

After making over 100 appearances for Trinity, he joined Leeds Rhinos and won back-to-back Super League Grand Finals and a World Club Challenge, before heading down under in 2009 to play for Wests Tigers - being voted their Player of the Year in each of his three years there, as well as being nominated for the Golden Boot award.

He returned to Super League in 2013 with Hull, becoming the first Airlie Birds captain to lift the Challenge Cup at Wembley last season.

Ellis, now closing in on a century of games for the Humbersiders, was named in the Super League Dream Team for a fifth time in 2016, was nominated for the Steve Prescott Man of Steel award and shared the Rugby League Writers and Broadcasters’ Association Player of the Year award with team-mate Danny Houghton

On his new role for 2018 onwards, working alongside head coach Lee Radford, executive director James Clark and player welfare manager Feka Paleaaesina, Ellis said: "Thankfully I've been invited to play a major part in the future success of this ambitious club in the prestigious and demanding role as football manager.

"This decision to call time on my career will ensure my long-term future while also acting as a further spur to lead FC to a successive Wembley triumph and onward to the Grand Final for my last-ever victory on the field in 2017.”

Radford said: “It will be disappointing not to have Gareth out there on the field next season, but I’m really excited to have him involved in an off-field role with us next season.

“He’s been absolutely fantastic to work with. He’s very professional in everything he does and we’ll miss him out on the field but with the football manager’s role being so important now, it’s great that we have someone like himself fulfilling it.

“We have assured one final but I’d love nothing more than to see him with the Super League trophy raised above his head at Old Trafford in October.

"That’s what we’re all striving for and that’s the focus for us – to send him out on the highest note possible.”

Hull chairman Adam Pearson added: “Gareth is the model professional who handles himself with the utmost modesty, humility and credibility while achieving so much personal and team success in a fantastic career spanning almost two decades.

“He possesses the personal and professional qualities to make a seamless transition into a new role at the club, he is well respected across the game and we’re looking forward to seeing him develop and influence the ongoing success our performance department."