IT has been a month to remember for hockey player Ian Styles after he was selected for the England Vintage Masters 4 Nations squad - and helped the side to win the competition.
Ian, affectionately nicknamed Nobby after England’s World Cup-winning footballer Nobby Stiles, impressed as the England side romped to victory with a 100 percent record.
They saw off Scotland 1-0 in their opening game, before sweeping the Welsh aside in a 5-2 victory, and ending the tournament with a 5-0 thrashing of host nation Ireland.
“It was a brilliant weekend,” said Ian. “We put in an enormous amount of practice before we went and that really paid off.”
“Generally the biggest factor in our win wasn’t skill or anything, it was fitness.
“From a personal point of view, I was very nervous to start with – for the first 20 minutes of the first game I was like a small child!
“But as the tournament progressed I started to get better and better and fitted into the team more.”
England’s first game was a tough match against Scotland, which was decided by a first half penalty corner.
Ian revelled playing in a sweeper role, as England prevented the Scots from making many decent chances and held on for the victory.
Buoyed by their opening win, the side went into their game with Wales full of confidence, but found themselves 2-1 down at half-time.
Class shone through in the end, though, and England were rewarded for their attacking endeavour with four second-half goals to seal the victory.
Going into the final match, England knew that only a disaster would prevent them from lifting the title, and there were no signs of an upset as they took a 2-0 lead into the interval.
They continued to push, and eventually ran out 5-0 winners to seal the tournament victory, with only a good save preventing Ian from finding the net.
And the Tring man was selected for special praise from manager David Gill who said: “From the back, Nobby was tireless. Taking a little while to settle in , his forays forward were almost unmarked, but decisive.”
Following his fine tournament, Ian is now looking forward to this summer’s European Cup competition.
“I’m in the squad so I just have to make sure I remain fit and don’t get injured,” he said.