Sanford: "It's been an amazing experience so far."

Liam Sanford Euros

After winning three medals at three tournaments in the space of six months, Liam Sanford admits his start to life as an international player hasn’t quite been what he expected.

Despite only making his international debut in March, Sanford has already helped Great Britain to gold at the Azlan Shah Cup in May and England to bronze at both the Hero Hockey World League Semi-Finals in London and the European Championships in Amsterdam.

The 21-year-old defender has immediately caught the eye, tenacious and tough tackling in defence while equally comfortable and confident on the ball.

Sanford said: “It’s been different to what I thought it was going to be to be honest! Coming into the programme later than when everyone else started due to my RAF commitments I thought I’d come in, get up to speed and basically get used to the environment.

“But coming into it and going to all the tournaments so far, obviously it’s great and I’ve really enjoyed my six months so far.  It’s been an amazing experience so far.”

"The lads have helped a lot, I've played with quite a lot of them at under 18 and under 21 level but the lads I didn't know have been really good at welcoming the new guys.

"With South Africa and then Malaysia so close together we spent every day with everyone and its been really easy to come into the group and get to know everyone."

Liam Sanford tackles at the Euros

With plenty of positives in 2017, Sanford still maintains that playing at home in London at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre remains his highlight.

He said: “The World League Semi-Finals in London were really exciting being on home soil. I’d never played in that kind of atmosphere and for me it was the most exciting tournament this year. The Semi-Final versus the Dutch at the Euros hearing their anthem coming on with 10,000 people singing sent shivers down the spine as well.”

Sanford admits to the disappointment of losing to hosts the Netherlands that night, but acknowledges that the team responded in the best way possible.

“We were disappointed going into the bronze match but knew we had to get mentally prepared. But coming away with bronze for us new guys, a first big medal, in just six months of being in the programme is pretty impressive and I’m very happy with it!”

It’s fair to call Sanford an all action player, highlighted best by his roles running out at penalty corners and as the go to kicking back!

Liam explained: “I was talking to Brendan Creed about why I go kicking back actually! It was me at under 21s as well! We think it’s either because I’m stupid enough or brave enough, so we’ve gone for the latter!

“I always run one now and I blame Brendan for that! At under 21s he ran one but then we did races and they’ve found out I’m quicker!

“I do enjoy it in game situations, the adrenaline pumping and thinking I’m not going to let it in. It’s a big responsibility to take on and I love that, I thrive on it.”

England Men Euros

Sights are now set on the December’s World League Finals in India and Sanford is hoping to end 2017 in style.

“We want push on from what we achieved at the Euros. It’s a massive tournament with the best teams in the world.

“It’ll be a great indication of where we stand and a good way to finish this year if we can medal as well.”