Barry Middleton, the motivator of England hockey team
Barry Middleton will be key to England’s chances at the Hockey World League Final taking place in Bhubaneswar from December 1 to 10.other sports Updated: Dec 01, 2017 12:33 IST
For England’s great midfielder Barry Middleton, every match is as exciting as was his first one. And he wants to continue in the same way when he is on the verge of becoming the first player of Britain to complete 400th international appearances, which will happen at the Hockey World League Final in Bhubaneswar.
The 33-year-old, who has played 397 matches for England, accepts that unlocking rival defences as well as scoring goals keep him entertained, and that he would try and continue his passion here for the world’s seventh ranked side in the 10-day event.
“For me records don’t matter a lot. I am here to play hockey and score goals for my country so that we can improve our ranking in the world,” an attacking player, Middleton told Hindustan Times before his team’s training at the Kalinga Stadium on Thursday.
While accepting that England is going through a transitional phase, Middleton felt optimistic about their chances of success here.
“Our performance at London was impressive as we finished third after losing to eventual winners the Netherlands in a hard-fought semi-final. But here it’s a new game as well as a new opportunity for us to redeem confidence.”
However, playing alongside youngsters is altogether a different experience for him. With 11 of the 18-member squad being aged 25 or younger, Middleton happens to be the role model and most times keeps motivating them.
“The exit of Ashley Jackson has put extra pressure on me. Now, I have a bigger role to play. I keep talking to every player even when I am on the field and always try to maintain a healthy competition,” said Middleton, who said that the idea of having three captains in the side at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was exciting.
“It’s been 10 long years playing hockey for England, trying different schemes, plans etc. I decided to step down as skipper with the changes being done for the betterment. The three-man leadership, including goalkeeper George Pinner, Ian Sloan and Phil Roper, is a good idea, and would be interesting to see how the trio do at the upcoming World Cup qualifiers in London and beyond.”