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Bleby bows out of international hockey
21 Apr 2022 08:59

© FIH / Gordon Morrison

29-year-old England and Great Britain defender Jon Bleby has announced his decision to withdraw from the international program.

Having made his England debut against Poland in May 2001, Jon subsequently withdrew from the international squad in 2003 with just six caps after being unable to resolve challenges to combine work with the pressures of international sport and Head Coach Jason Lee describes his decision to rejoin the squad in 2005 as “a great pleasure.  His involvement coincided with the team's turn around in form, particularly at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, the World Cup Qualifier, and culminating that year in the fifth place at the World Cup.  His energy on and off the pitch will be missed.”

In all, Bleby earned 54 caps for England and 37 for Great Britain.  He played alongside his England and Great Britain coach Jason Lee in the highly successful Loughborough Students side of the early 2000s and continues to play for the university where he earned a BSc in Sports Science before achieving an MSc.

Jon helped England to a fifth place finish at the 2006 World Cup, the highest ranking for the men’s side since 1990, and after helping Great Britain to qualify for Beijing in March 2008, assisted GB to the fifth place at the 2008 Olympics, the best finish since the gold-medal winning team of 1988.

Domestically, he won the indoor league title with Loughborough Students in 2002, 2003 and 2004 and finished as runners-up in the Cup in 2005 and the 2003 Super Cup.

Speaking about his time at the top Jon said, “I have had a fantastic time playing for England and Great Britain.  It has been a great honor and also unbelievably fun and challenging.  I felt now was a perfect time for me to start striving for some other goals in my life having finished on a great high with GB's positive performance at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.  I have an immense amount of respect for the hard work and achievements of all the staff and players and there is no doubt the England and GB ship is sailing fast in the right direction.  Nobody will be a bigger supporter of them in the future years than me.'

Jason Lee was quick to praise his former team-mate and player and said, “His energy on and off the pitch will be missed. He consistently covered more ground on the pitch than anyone in the England and GB team and probably in World hockey, but was never injured.  He maintained the same energy off the pitch and the way he helped gel the team was invaluable.  We don't only have a vacancy at full-back now, but also a vacancy for a quiz master!”

Source: England Hockey

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