England and Great Britain forward Helen Grant, 28, has announced her retirement from hockey due to an ongoing knee injury which was originally sustained in 1997.

Grant ruptured the ACL in her right knee in 1997 and at the same time tore the meniscus, 60% of which was taken out during surgery.  She returned to playing, but the absence of much of the meniscus has led to a lack of cushioning for her joints and she now has damage to the joint surfaces on her tibia and femur which has brought on early arthritis.  She commented “there hasn’t been a training session since 2005 that I haven’t taken painkillers to get me through, and these days I can spend two days after a match hobbling around”.

She was told by her surgeon in 2005 to imagine that she only has a certain amount of steps left in her knee.  Eventually there will be a time when those steps run out, and it seems that now is the time.

A disappointed Grant, who has scored in every national league game since Christmas for Canterbury, said “I am still very competitive and can hobble around at national league level but the only thing I can guarantee on the international stage is that I will give 100%.  I cannot guarantee that I will not break down and trying to compete for an Olympic place when my knee is as sore as it is unfortunately just isn’t realistic anymore.”

Grant made her England debut on 16 June 2001 in Belfast against Ireland (1-1) and went on to amass 105 appearances and 30 goals before her final game on 8 October 2006 at the World Cup in Madrid against Germany (won 2-1).  She burst on to the British scene when she scored both goals in Great Britain’s 2-2 draw against South Africa in Potchefstroom on 17 May 2003 and her last appearance for GB came against the same country in Stellenbosch on 10 January 2007 (lost 3-1) after accumulating 11 caps and four goals.

She has played in two World Cups (2002, 2006) and two European Cups (2003, 2005).

Striker Grant, whose “goal sense and work rate will be sorely missed by the group” according to Head Coach Danny Kerry, was England’s top goal scorer at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, the 2002 World Cup in Australia and the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.  She has scored 68 goals in the Slazenger England Hockey League and in two seasons at Rotterdam scored 18 goals being crowned top goal scorer for the First XI in her second season.

Head Coach Danny Kerry commented “Helen has been a great asset to England and GB during her time in the squads. On a personal note I have been extremely impressed with Helen’s fight to overcome a continuing and painful injury, and it is a great testimony to her that she has exhausted every possibility in that regard.”

Grant continued “I have had some fantastic times with England and Great Britain and have travelled the world as a result.  I am extremely disappointed to be retiring at such a young age, but I’ve always thought that you play to play against the best, and frustratingly I can’t do that anymore.  Canterbury have been fantastic to me and although I will take the summer to reflect on my situation, I think that the time has come to hang up my hockey stick for good. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have worked with, and supported  me over the last three years, in particular Michael Johnston and the EIS staff at Bath and Bisham Abbey, and I want to wish the current GB squads all the very best of luck on the rest of their journey to Beijing”.

Performance Director David Faulkner said “Despite Helen’s career ending with injury she will reflect on a rewarding career with England and Great Britain”

Source: England Hockey