Fox targets Olympics after England's World Cup bid
HAMPSTEAD & Westminster s Dan Fox is back on home soil after helping England to an historic World Cup semi-final – and now he has his eye on the Olympics. Fox and his team-mates swept aside hosts India and eventual winners Australia en route to the last f
HAMPSTEAD & Westminster's Dan Fox is back on home soil after helping England to an historic World Cup semi-final - and now he has his eye on the Olympics.
Fox and his team-mates swept aside hosts India and eventual winners Australia en route to the last four, as England reached their first semi-final on foreign ground - the furthest they have gone since the final in Willesden in 1986.
Their quest for glory was heartbreakingly ended in a showdown with Germany, but Fox returns from his first World Cup convinced England are now a match for the best teams in the world as he prepares to go into full-time training for the 2012 London Olympics later this year.
"I was a bit dazed when I got the call really, but obviously excited," said Fox, who was called up as a last-minute replacement for the injured Simon Mantell.
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"Since the squad was selected in January I'd more or less resigned myself to not going so to get the call was incredible. I got the call on the Thursday and flew out there on the Friday!
"The World Cup and the Olympics are the two biggest competitions in hockey, and because I didn't have the same preparation as the other lads, I was able to go out there without any expectations, I didn't set any goals for myself."
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Fox missed out on England's opening-game 3-2 win over pre-tournament favourites Australia, but featured against South Africa and the remaining matches against Pakistan, India and Spain.
And it is the South Africa and India clashes that Fox will remember as two of the biggest highlights of his career.
After Fox set up a crucial goal against the Africans, England embarked on a run that saw them the first team to make the knock-out stages thanks to a narrow 3-2 win against the home nation in front of 15,000 fans at the Dhyan Chand National Stadium.
"I'm normally a defensive player, I've played in midfield for England before but in the first game against South Africa I was brought on up front," added Fox.
"With my first touch I played a pass to the back post and set up Ashley Jackson for a goal. The game was 2-2 at the time and we went on to win 6-4, so it was a big moment for us.
"But the semi-final against India was just a different kettle of fish. The media out there didn't give us a chance - I think we were 17-1 for the trophy at the start of the tournament. But we went there with high expectations.
"So to beat them on that occasion and do a lap of honour at the end is the sort of thing that doesn't come round often, it was one of those special occasions that might never happen again."
But in the semi-final two-time winners Germany proved a bridge too far for England as they marched to a 4-1 win on their way to the final, where they would go on to defeat Australia.
Fox is now focussed on making the team for the Commonwealth Games when England return to India in October, by which time preparation for the 2012 Olympics will be in full swing.
"I'm really looking forward to that. We're the hosts and the home support will be so important," he said. "The better we do in the next two years the more coverage we'll get and the more people will be talking about us.
"This has been one step towards 2012. We've sent out a massive message to the rest of the world - we've had a taste of it and that will spur us on."
l Hampstead and Westminster, playing without skipper Fox, beat Cannock 5-4 on Saturday.