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Max Luycx, Belgium’s captain, has enjoyed a stellar year. His team beat the 2008 Olympic silver-medallists, Spain, at the European championships to earn a place at the London 2012 Games and the 29-year-old has become the third man to make over 300 international appearances for his country – has 306 caps. The accountant has stayed loyal to one club throughout his career, Waterloo Ducks, where he first began playing aged 5.

This most modest and charming man is quick to give praise to the Belgian Federation for the support they have given the national teams along with solid structures they have put in place to assure the success of future generations. Luycx is set to play in a second Olympic Games and is excited about the strength and depth of the squad Belgium has to call on.

But for now they have a semi-final against Argentina to prepare for and whilst qualifying for a first ever Champions Trophy appearance is a goal, he’s realistic enough to admit the threat from the Pan-American champions and India is huge. As always, they’ll just be taking one game at a time.

FIH.CH Have you ever been to South Africa before?

ML: Yes, this is my third visit. We’ve had training camps in Potchefstroom before but we’ve also been to Cape Town which was beautiful and the Kruger National Park. I really like Africa, the people are so friendly and open and we all love the biltong (beef jerky) – we went out and bought a whole lot today. The visit to the game park was fantastic and for me the lions were the best. But I also enjoyed seeing elephants and hippos.

FIH.CH Have you played any other sports?

ML: Yes, I was a very good tennis player when I was younger but eventually had to choose between hockey and tennis. I also love watching football, the Belgium club RSC Anderlecht is my favourite but I am also a big Real Madrid fan.

FIH.CH Who are your hockey heroes and which coaches have had the biggest influence on your career?

ML: The former Pakistan forward Shabaz Ahmad and Dutch legend Teun de Nooijer who is still an amazing player. The coaches would have to be the Belgian coach Pascal Kina and the two Australian coaches, Adam Commens and Colin Batch who have been in charge of our national team. I love the Australian style they have brought and our current coach Batch and his assistant the former Dutch captain, Jeroen Delmee, complement each other superbly.

FIH.CH What’s your favourite food and who would be your ideal guests at a dinner party?

ML: I really like spare ribs with a barbecue sauce, French fries and a big beer! I’d invite my parents, my older brother, two younger sisters, my girlfriend Nathalie, Zinedine Zidane (former France football captain), Nelson Mandela (for all he’s done for South Africa), and the two Michaels – Jordan and Jackson.

FIH.CH Which book are you reading at the moment?

ML: The biography of Steve Jobs, the late CEO of Apple. I think what he did for technology was incredible and I’m very interested in his life. I have an iPhone, a MacBook Pro and an iPod but not an iPad – yet!