Bumper birthday for England goalkeeper George Pinner

George Pinner

George Pinner - Credit: ffu.nl/Frank Uijlenbroek

George Pinner won a bronze medal and the ‘Goalkeeper of the Tournament’ award on Saturday, the day he celebrated his 27th birthday.

Along with fellow former ex-Ipswich School pupil Harry Martin, the 27-year-old played his part as England recovered from their semi-final defeat against New Zealand to pip Australia for third at the Hockey World League Finals in India.

“It was good to come away with a bronze and the award, but I don’t think my girlfriend (Jo) was too pleased that her present wasn’t the best I received!” joked Pinner.

“Seriously though, it felt really good to be recognised and I played well, but the most pleasing thing was that we medalled.

“You don’t want to be a good player in a losing team and our achievement in winning bronze was the most important aspect. I just played my part.”

Pinner made a number of crucial contributions as England finished unbeaten to top Pool A in the group stages of the tournament.

He was then named man of the match in the quarter-final victory against Belgium before being put in the spotlight in the last four game with New Zealand, as the match went to an ultimately unsuccessful shoot-out as far as England were concerned.

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The shoot-out is not straightforward and involves the outfield player taking a run up before attempting to beat the goalkeeper who tries to force their opponent wide, all against the clock.

“It used to be a case where more emphasis was placed on the speed of the shot and if the goalkeeper got a bit of luck and guessed right they may save it,” said Pinner.

“There is more skill involved in the new shoot-out and goalkeeper has to try and force the player as wide as possible

“It was the first time that I have been involved in a shoot-out internationally and as much as you can practice in training, the feeling that goes through your head when you are involved is something you can’t replicate in a non-match environment.”

Meanwhile, Martin, who scored in normal time for England during the 3-3 draw with New Zealand in the semi-final, before missing two shots in the shoot-out, said he had no regrets.

“Obviously the shoot-out was very disappointing but I have no regrets,” said the current Suffolk Sports Personality of the Year.

“The coach (Bobby Crutchley) told us who he wanted to take the shots and if it came to a shoot-out situation again I would definitely put myself up there. It’s where you want to be.

“I think the shoot-out can work both ways and can see more success for the goalkeepers than in normal penalties.

“But it is good for the game and makes the spectacle pretty exciting.”

He added: “The tournament overall was pretty exciting from England’s point-of-view.

“We have to be realistic and say that no team was at full strength, but we are aiming to peak for the World Cup (in May) and Commonwealth Games (July) and that has set us up nicely.”

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