George Pinner ready to establish himself as Great Britain and England’s number one keeper

Great Britain and England hockey keeper George Pinner.
Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Great Britain and England hockey keeper George Pinner. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire - Credit: PA

George Pinner has finally been installed as Great Britain and England’s first choice goalkeeper – and he fully intends on holding that position for years to come.

The Ipswich-born, ex-Ipswich School player was named as Team GB’s reserve custodian for the London 2012 Olympic Games, continuing his role as patient back-up man to the experienced James Fair.

Failure to land a medal at the tournament has seen big changes in the camp though, with new coach Bobby Crutchley having significantly lowered the age profile of the squad with the long-term aim of building towards Rio 2016.

At the age of 26, Pinner is suddenly the main man between the sticks and one of the most experienced players in the squad. And so far he has risen to the task.

Currently in Malaysia taking part in the World League – a tournament which acts as a qualifier to next year’s World Cup in Holland – Pinner has shone in draws against South Africa and Pakistan.

Speaking ahead of today’s final group game against the host nation, he said: “We were all really disappointed not to medal at the Olympics, but as the reserve goalkeeper I perhaps didn’t come away as down as some of the other lads.

“For me it was a fantastic experience. It gave me a taste of what being at the Games is like and really motivated me to make the most of the next four years.

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“I went away, had a really good season with Beeston (winning the Premier League) and couldn’t wait for the international tournaments to start.”

He continued: “I feel like I’ve done my apprenticeship and now that I’ve got the goalkeeper’s shirt, I’m not ready to give it up. I know I’ve now got to work hard to establish myself and prove that this is my position for the long-term.

“It’s just like football. Once a goalkeeper is established for the national side, it is hard for anyone to oust them. Joe Hart looks like he could be England’s keeper for years to come in football and I hope I can do the same in hockey.”

With Ipswich’s Harry Martin also a key figure in the young GB/England squads, Pinner said: “There are some huge tournaments in hockey – the World Cup and European Championships – but the Olympics is the pinnacle and our biggest goal is to win that gold medal in Rio. That’s what this squad has been picked for, to build for the next Games.

“There are a lot of uncapped, young players in this squad. It’s going to take time for us to gel and improve, but there is a real fresh feeling about the squad and sense of excitement about what we can achieve.

“If we keep developing at the rate we have done this year then I really feel like we will be challenging at Rio.”