Wales’ most capped goalkeeper, David Kettle has today announced he is to retire from international hockey, ending a distinguished career. Having represented Wales since age 14, playing in all junior sides, he made his Welsh debut in 2009 during the World Cup qualifying tournament in New Zealand.
Kettle co captained the Welsh side for four years, competing in the 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth Games and playing an integral part in Wales’ promotion to the top tier of European hockey last year. Retirement at this stage in his career means Kettle will not join Wales next August when the squad head out to Antwerp to compete in this top division but it’s a decision Kettle explains he’s comfortable with:
As custodians of the shirt, we always talk about leaving things in a better place than when we started. I can move on with my head held high knowing that we are now one of the top 8 teams in Europe and have gone toe to toe with some of the world’s best sides. I’m incredibly proud of what this young side has achieved and I have no doubt they will take Wales to even greater heights in the future.
Over the years, Kettle has racked up numerous successes at club level, having played for Cannock, East Grinstead and Surbiton in the Euro Hockey League. He’s also benefited from and enjoyed playing professionally in both the Malaysian and Australian Hockey Leagues.
He retires today as the most capped goalkeeper in Welsh history, amassing 106 outdoor and 19 indoor caps. Reflecting on his career, Kettle added:
Obviously competing in the 2014 and 2018 commonwealth games was a real highlight. I was incredibly proud to captain the side for 4 years but it is the friendships I have made and the stories we share that I will cherish the most.
Graduating from the University of Birmingham with a master’s in international business; where he continues to lecture and mentor, Kettle has confirmed he’ll be taking a complete break from the game, concentrating on both his career with Barclays, which runs parallel to his own business interests:
It’s a bit of a step into the unknown to be honest, which is quite scary but also very exciting. I’m going to continue with my climbing and will be heading to Nepal in April. I’m still working out what else I will do but I definitely won’t be taking up golf.
Earlier this year Kettle bravely opened up to BBC Sports Editor, Dan Roan around his struggles, battling mental health problems; struggles that consumed him so viciously he made the decision to step away from international hockey altogether. Having thankfully worked through his battle with depression, Kettle felt overwhelmed with the positive response on the back of the interview last May. Furthermore, UK Sport have since announced their plans to launch a comprehensive mental health strategy, which’ll include the crucial new role, Head of Mental Health.
Commenting on an international career spanning nearly a decade, Wales’ men’s Head Coach, Zak Jones said:
Although David’s announcement was not wholly unexpected, having had a number of conversations with him recently, it is always difficult to lose someone of his ability, experience and quality from the programme. It has been a privilege working with David and watching him develop as both a person and athlete during his time in the Wales set-up.
Whilst his goalkeeping ability speaks for itself, David also brought an in-depth knowledge of the game and notable leadership qualities to the squad both on and off the field. He has been a huge and integral part of the squad over the past few years and has been instrumental in helping to develop the squads ability to truly compete with the higher ranked nations.
David’s experience, attitude and influence will be missed by all, but I hope that his retirement enables him to explore the opportunities he wishes to pursue away from hockey. I would like to take this opportunity to formally thank him for everything he has contributed to the programme and Welsh Hockey as a whole over the years and also to wish him all the very best for the future, both personally and professionally.
A firm fixture amongst the Welsh line up, David ‘Dragon’ Kettle will be sorely missed by his team and all of us across the hockey family. We wish him the very best with his future.