Doncaster-born Barry Middleton stands down as England and Great Britain Hockey captain
Doncaster-born Barry Middleton has stepped down as men's captain of England and Great Britain Hockey.
The 33-year-old - the most capped England and GB player of all time - has been at the helm for the best part of a decade.
He has been replaced by a three-man captaincy group of George Pinner, Phil Roper and Ian Sloan.
Middleton told Radio Sheffield this week: “There were a few different reasons which, combined together, made it quite a simple decision in the end.
“With a new group coming together we felt like it needed a new direction, especially after Rio with things not going right.
“And also for myself playing-wise, to take some of the stresses out of the job and just concentrate of playing hockey and enjoying myself.”
Middleton’s greatest achievement was captaining the England side to glory in the 2009 European Championships in Amstelveen. Rio was his fourth Olympics.
The new captaincy structure was successful when put in place for the Sultan Azlan Shah Trophy in Malaysia, when Bobby Crutchley’s GB team became the first British side to win the trophy in 23 years, defeating Australia in the final.
Next month England turn their attention to World Cup qualification at the Men’s Hockey World League Semi Final in London.
Crutchley said: “We have named a captaincy group that represents the shared responsibility, accountability and ownership of the full squad.
“I would like to thank Barry Middleton for his leadership and captaincy over the years.
“We are very fortunate to have him with us as one of the best players in the world, and I know his leadership qualities will be as prevalent as ever.”