Spurs fan Nick aims for hockey World Cup Final
13 June 2014|Tottenham Hotspur
Spurs fan Nick Catlin is on the brink of the hockey World Cup Final with England.
The midfielder/forward helped fire England into a semi-final shoot-out against hosts Holland with a goal in a thrilling final group match against Belgium.
England went into Monday's showdown two points behind Belgium but a penalty from Ian Lewers just four minutes from time saw them leapfrog their rivals in to second and into the semi-finals.
Nick played a key role in that game, drilling home the equaliser for 1-1 and then setting up Ashley Jackson for 2-1. Belgium levelled at 2-2 before the final twist in the tale.
Olympian Nick, capped over 100 times combined for England and GB, told us back in 2012 about how his love of Spurs came about.
“My granddad, John Catlin, actually played for Tottenham Hotspur’s youth team as a schoolboy,” he said. "I’ve got a fantastic picture of him in a team photo before a match, wearing the famous white shirt and it’s really there where my family’s interest in the club began.”
For now, Nick is fully focused on Holland and a place in the World Cup Final.
We caught up with him at England's World Cup base in Holland where he explained just how big the tournament is - and what it's like to be playing the World Cup when most attention is on another World Cup taking place in Brazil!
First of all, the hockey World Cup - just to get an idea, in hockey, is the tournament ranked just behind the Olympics?
Nick: "In terms of the world of hockey solely I guess the World Cup has to be the most high profile event. In terms of the wider public, though, the Olympics is obviously more well-known and I think if you asked most international hockey players which they rank more highly in their careers, it would be the Olympic Games. Having said that, a World Cup in Holland is about as good as hockey gets."
How does this tournament compare to the Olympics? It’s obviously huge in terms of hockey, but what is the coverage like globally?
Nick: "As the tournament is being hosted in Holland (the Dutch are hockey mad) the coverage is pretty substantial. The media interest in Holland is significant and the coverage on Sky Sports at home has made a serious difference to interest levels in England, which is great. The Olympics will always have a larger global impact, but this is the biggest 'hockey' event I have ever been involved in."
England best finish in a World Cup is silver in 1986, while the latest two tournaments have finished in fifth and fouurth. What would it mean to get to the final and, hopefully, go one better?
Nick: "I was involved in the fourth place finish at the last World Cup in Delhi and it would mean everything to me to improve on that result. Any career in elite sport is measured on medals and success and I'd like to have as many medals as I can when I finish. To win would be incredible and the fact it would make a little history and give hockey the spotlight in the UK for a change would be brilliant."
How has the team’s form been in the tournament? The players did well to bounce back from a 5-0 defeat against Australia to beat Belgium.
Nick: "The team's form, with the exception of the game against Australia, has steadily improved throughout the tournament, culminating in the win against Belgium. We knew before playing Australia that the crunch game in terms of qualification for the semi-finals would be the game against Belgium, so whilst we were obviously disappointed with the performance and result against Australia, we knew qualification was still very much in our own hands."
That Belgium game was a thriller - you scored - what was that like?
Nick: "The Belgium game was probably one of the most important games of international hockey I've been involved in and one of the sweetest victories. I'm not a prolific goalscorer so it was nice to get one in a big game but to be honest, it was the team's defensive display that proved most important in the result."
Next up, Holland in the semi-finals. They topped their group. How big a test is this?
Nick: "A semi-final against the Dutch in a World Cup in Holland is about as big a test as you can get in the world of hockey. One of the best things about playing international hockey is playing in front of a packed house and those opportunities don't come around too often, so everyone is incredibly excited at the prospect."
We know you are a big Spurs/football fan. How does it feel to be playing in the World Cup – just as football’s World Cup kicks-off?
Nick: "To be honest, it can be a little bit frustrating given that generally football overshadows a sport like hockey more often than not. Our semi-final game on Friday was scheduled for 6pm but has been moved to earlier in the afternoon so as not to clash with the Holland v Spain game in the football World Cup. As you can imagine, I would rather FIFA were rescheduling the football so as not to clash with the hockey!"