Des Abbott has announced his retirement from international hockey after making 111 appearances for the Kookaburras. The prolific forward informed coach Ric Charlesworth of his decision on Thursday, calling time on an international career that has seen him win an Olympic bronze medal, and World Cup and Commonwealth Games gold.
The 27 year old scored 61 times in his 111 outings, including six at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games where his goals helped Australia to the bronze medal ahead of the Netherlands. He was the first athlete to win the prestigious Northern Territory Sportsperson of the Year Award three times but was left disappointed after injury forced his withdrawal from the Kookaburras squad for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. At the time, Charlesworth called it “the most difficult thing I’ve had to do in my time [as coach].” The past year has seen Abbott undergo surgery on his knee and endure a lengthy period of rehabilitation.
Since making his debut in 2007, Abbott has represented Australia at the Olympic Games, World Cup, Commonwealth Games, four Champions Trophy tournaments and the Oceania Cup. In 2010, he was named in the International Hockey Federation’s World All Star team for the year alongside Kookaburras teammates Jamie Dwyer and Eddie Ockenden, and coach Ric Charlesworth.
Explaining what it has meant to represent his country, Abbott said, “I never thought I’d play for Australia so to play more than 100 games has been incredible. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time as a Kookaburra; it’s something I’ll treasure forever. I’ve been around the world going to so many amazing places and I just want to thank everyone who has been a part of helping me experience everything.”
Paying tribute to Abbott, Ric Charlesworth said, “I’m saddened to lose him because he has been such a brilliant player. We’re diminished by losing him.
“He has been one of the most brilliant players of the past decade in my view. Unfortunately, because of his injuries, we haven’t seen enough of him but his record is better than a goal every two games, which puts him among the highest level for strikers.
“All along he was pretty special. He scored brilliant goals and he’s a brilliant passer of the ball in the circle with terrific vision. He won the corner we scored from in the World Cup Final in 2010; he gave us a target.”
Although he has announced his retirement from international hockey, Abbott isn’t hanging up his stick completely. He’ll continue to play club hockey in Perth while concentrating on his career with the water corporation. He hopes to return home to his family and friends in Darwin in the future.
Des Abbott’s Kookaburras career
January 2007 – Makes senior international debut for Australia against the Netherlands
June 2008 – Helps Australia to the gold medal at the Champions Trophy, his first. Scores in the final against Spain as Kookaburras win 4-1
August 2008 – Scores six goals to help Kookaburras to Olympic bronze medal in Beijing
March 2009 – Wins Northern Territory Sportsperson of the Year Award for the first time
December 2009 – Scores in the final as Kookaburras beat Germany 5-3 to win Champions Trophy in Melbourne
March 2010 – Wins World Cup with Kookaburras in Delhi. Scores four times in the tournament
August 2010 – Scores in Champions Trophy final, helping Kookaburras to 4-0 win over England
October 2010 – Wins Commonwealth Games gold medal, beating India in the final
December 2010 – Named in FIH World All Star Team 2010March 2011 – Wins Northern Territory Sportsperson of the Year Award for the second time
December 2011 – Helps Kookaburras to fourth consecutive Champions Trophy gold medal
March 2012 – Wins Northern Territory Sportsperson of the Year Award for the third time
July 2012 – Misses out on London 2012 Olympic Games through knee injury
July 2013 – Announces international retirement
Source: Hockey Australia
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