An international career which began way back in October 2001 has come to an end: Alex Danson-Bennett has announced her retirement from hockey.
The 34-year-old, who has won 306 caps, has spent the last 18 months battling a long-term concussion injury. She returned to the Great Britain training programme in January but with the Tokyo Olympics just months away she has decided the “risk is too high” for her to continue with her hockey career.
“After a long 18 months but a fabulous 18 years in the sport, it’s the right time for me to retire.”
“It’s been the most incredible journey I could have asked for, but a lot has changed. My head injury has been life-changing, also in terms of my perspective and things that have happened within my family. Throughout my career I’ve been 100% immersed in being an athlete, but my priorities are different now. All of that means it’s the right time.”
Danson-Bennett sustained the injury after hitting her head on a wall whilst on holiday in Kenya with her now husband, Alex. As a result she has not played since England’s Hockey Women’s World Cup quarter final exit against the Netherlands back in August 2018.
“I’ve known over the last couple of weeks that it was a decision I needed to come to. It’s difficult because this has been my life. It’ll be strange moving into something new, but I’m totally thankful and content. I have zero regrets about the way I’ve lived my career.”
“Hockey has always been my priority, but I’ve come to that stage where I can’t do that and it wouldn’t be fair to the team. Your family are everything; there are many factors that have led to this decision. The opportunity to spend more time with my family is a gift and I look at it that way.”
The former Reading striker brings to an end a career which spanned almost 20 years and during which she won 20 international medals. Most notably she won an Olympic gold in 2016, a European gold in 2015 and an Olympic bronze in 2012.
Danson-Bennett took to Instagram to break the news and in her post stated that this is ‘not a sad retirement.’
“I have played more games in more tournaments than I could ever have dreamt of. I have made lifelong friends, travelled the world and loved every single minute of my career.”
“I end my playing days completely content, proud of how I committed every day for 18 years and thankful to have had the most incredible people by my side. I look back and have not one single regret. I lived my dream.”
Danson-Bennett is Great Britain and England’s joint leading scorer of all time, level on 115 goals with Marjorie Pollard and was appointed MBE in the 2017 New Year Honours.
She hasn’t made clear what the future holds for her now her hockey career has come to an end, but in the immediate short term she’s got one eye on Tokyo, albeit in a slightly different capacity than she originally hoped:
“Now, I will be the number one supporter of the team, I’d love to be in Tokyo watching, I just need to convince my husband! I came back to the squad because I believe they are a winning team. I’m sad not to be on the pitch but I will always feel part of it.”
A player who has given her all, inspired many and done so much for the sport will definitely always be ‘part of it.’
I wish her well in whatever the next challenge is.