Liam De Young retires27 June 2014
HOCKEY: Olympic gold medallist Liam De Young, one of the most decorated players in Australian hockey, has announced his retirement from the Kookaburras after 312 appearances.
One of only four men to play more than 300 games for Australia, De Young, from Brisbane, hangs up his stick as an Olympic champion and a three-time Olympic medallist, double World Cup winner, three-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist and four-time Champions Trophy winner.
Since making his debut as a 19 year-old in a 3-1 win over Belgium in October 2001 under then coach Barry Dancer, De Young has gone on to represent Australia at three Olympic Games, four World Cups, three Commonwealth Games, seven Champions Trophies and six Oceania Cups.
Explaining his decision, he said, “As much as I enjoy being part of the Kookaburras and feel privileged to have been part of such an elite program, I know that physically and mentally I can no longer commit to the program 100% and it is time to step away. I could not have asked for a better finish to my career than to win the World Cup so convincingly in front of an amazing crowd and my family and friends. It was the perfect finish to my career.”
He will forever be known as a member of Australia’s history-making Olympic gold medal-winning team of the Athens Games in 2004 while back-to-back World Cup victories in 2010 and 2014, coming after two successive World Cup final defeats, rate highly amongst De Young’s achievements.
“These were gruelling campaigns that required so much sacrifice for such a long time leading up to these majors and to get the gold at the end of that makes it all worthwhile,” he said.
The scorer of 35 international goals, it was De Young that got Australia off the mark in the 2006 Commonwealth Games final in Melbourne as he netted the opening goal in a 3-0 win over Pakistan. He found the target in both the World Cup and Commonwealth Games in 2010 and scored the last of his 35 strikes in the Kookaburras’ 5-0 victory over England at the 2014 World Cup in The Hague.
Thanking those that have played the biggest part in his career, he said, “There are many people who have influenced and supported me in my career who deserve my thanks.
“I have had the privilege of being coached by two of the best coaches in history during my international career; thank you to Barry Dancer and Ric Charlesworth. Both had an incredible knowledge of the game and a desire to help me improve as a player and enabled me to play at my full potential. I will always be grateful for their guidance. Thanks also to the support staff and assistant coaches along the way, including Colin Batch, Graham Reid and Paul Gaudoin who have assisted in various campaigns and made playing for the Kookaburras so memorable.
“As a proud Queenslander I would like to thank Greg Browning who as QAS coach had a big influence on my development as a young player, and Matt Wells who has continued that support through the latter parts of my career. I would like to thank Pine Rivers St. Andrews hockey club in Brisbane for my foundation years and Vic Park Panthers for supporting me in Perth.
“To my teammates over the past 14 years, thanks for making 6am gym sessions bearable. I am honoured to have played with each and every one of you. A special thanks to Rob Hammond and Nathan Eglington who I lived with when I first moved to Perth as a 19 year-old and who became lifelong friends. I learnt a lot from them as well as guys like Paul Gaudoin, Bevan George and Troy Elder who often went out of their way to encourage and offer advice. And to guys like Mick McCann, Jamie Dwyer and Mark Knowles who are some of my closest mates, I have learnt a lot from you, in particular what it takes to train and prepare to be the best.
“To my parents and brothers who have supported me every step of the way. They have given up plenty to allow me to reach my goals and done so without question. I am a better athlete because of you but, more importantly, a better person.
“Thanks to my wife Sarah who has been on this journey with me from the beginning and endured many sacrifices in order for me to follow my dream. She has been through the highs and lows of my sporting career and her belief and encouragement enabled me to achieve at the highest level.”
Kookaburras coach Ric Charlesworth, who has coached De Young since 2008, said, “For well over a decade Liam was at the heart of the Kookaburras and his durability was testimony to his great skill and fluency, and his speed and composure. Whenever the stakes were high Liam delivered.
“He is unobtrusive and laconic but hugely versatile and beautifully balanced, and fluent in his skill production. He filled gaps, covered holes and was then capable of springing into action and penetrating deep into the opposition’s defence with his lightning counter attacks. He played as a defender and a midfielder, he scored goals and he defended diligently.”
De Young intends to spend more time with his wife Sarah and young children, Sienna and Harrison. “I plan on enjoying some holidays that aren’t dictated by the hockey calendar and on lowering my golf handicap,” he added.