Australian Olympic gold-medal winning midfielder Michael Brennan has announced his retirement from representative hockey after an impressive career that had him regarded as one of the best players in the world. 

With 134 Australian caps and 53 goals, the 29-year-oldbroke into the international arena in 1996, when he played in the Champions Trophy in Madras. The medals soon flowed, with a silver at the following year’s Champions Trophy and then a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in 1998. 

Brennan participated in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games and was at that time recognised as one of the quickest and most dangerous players in the world. He continued playing throughout 2000 and half of 2001 until, in a surprising decision, announced his retirement at the peak of his career. 

In late 2003 it became clear that he had rediscovered his passion for hockey. He gained national selection once again in early 2004 after helping the Queensland Blades win the Australian Hockey League championship title for the second consecutive year. 

“I felt an energy and a love of the game return, with playing becoming an enjoyment again instead of a chore,” Brennan said at the time. 

“I have come back fitter, stronger and faster than I was in 2000,” he said. 

Last year was a dream year for Brennan as he competed in almost all of the Australian matches following his comeback match in the Hockey Australia Men’s Challenge in April against South Africa in Canberra

The talent and athleticism had returned to his performance and Brennan soon showed the excitement of his game that had wowed crowds in the past, sparking a tournament win for the Kookaburras in the second 4-Nations tournament in Sydney that same month. 

However the pinnacle of Brennan’s career followed at the Athens Olympic Games, with the Kookaburras’ breathtaking win in the final against the Netherlands

He was an integral part of the gold medal winning team, scoring two goals in the tournament. 

“Winning gold was a fitting finish to what I had set out to do,” he said. 

“It completed the missing link for both me personally and for hockey in Australia.” 

Coach Barry Dancer, who had always indicated the door was open for a return, praised Brennan’s skill and ability. 

“Michael Brennan is an immensely talented player, who has played a significant role in the national team over a long period of time. His ability to return to the game and show an even higher level of determination and commitment to succeed is inspirational,” he said. 

“Michael’s attacking creativity and energy made him a pleasure to watch as he entertained the crowds.” 

While Brennan was due to play in this year’s Australian Hockey League, injuries have hampered his ability to play and he has made the decision to retire and pursue new career directions.