Honours Boards at a glance

  •  304 caps (a record) and 150 goals
  • 5 Olympic Games (Atlanta, Sydney, Athens, Beijing, London)
  • 2 Olympic silver medals (Atlanta and Beijing)
  • 4 World Cups (Utrecht, Kuala Lumpur, Monchengladbach, New Delhi)
  • 2 medals: Silver in Utrecht and bronze in Monchengladbach
  • 6 European Championships (Padua, Barcelona, Leipzig, Manchester, Amsterdam, Monchengladbach)
  • 3 medals: gold in Leipzig and silver in Barcelona and Manchester
  •  9 Champions Trophies (Madras, Adelaide, Lahore, Chennai, Amsterdam, Chennai, Terrassa, Rotterdam, Melbourne)
  • 4 medals: Silver in Rotterdam and 3 bronze in Adelaide, Chennai 2005 and Terrassa.
  • 1 European Cup of clubs gold medal with RC Polo in 2004
  • 8 Spanish League titles – 5 with Club Egara and 3 with RC Polo
  • FIH Player of the Year in 2008
  • Member of FIH All Stars 2006, 2008, 2009
  • Holder of the Olympic Order granted by the Spanish Olympic Committee

Anyone who has ever had the privilege of watching Pol Amat will recall those dazzling left-handed dribbles at electrifying pace down the left
wing culminating in a pin-point accurate pass for one of his team mates to thump home.

 

Making his debut as a 17-year-old against South Africa it was obvious the Spaniard was always going to be a special player. He recalls scoring twice in a 5-2 victory describing it as a special and fantastic moment.

Hockey plays a huge part in the family history with his father influencing his early development while his grandfather was one of the
founders of the Club Egara. Uncles and cousins have all played too with the family boasting an incredible record of representing Spain in 21
Olympic Games!

The good news too, is that Pol’s sons have starting playing hockey! And he believes if they continue the family tradition he may well return to
enjoy some involvement in the game. If his father was his mentor for many years, Pol says the Dutch-born former Spain coach Maurits Hendriks also played a big role in his career.“He brought many new and special ideas about tactics, technique and mental approach for a big generation of players” said Amat.

Of course there have been highs and lows in such a long career and Amat understandably says breaking his shoulder in Spain’s second match against Australia at the London 2012 Games was a big blow as it effectively ended his international career He added: “It was a pity it ended that way, but that’s sport.”

Naturally, that dark day is overshadowed by all the medals he picked up, not the least the silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He said: “We beat the Netherlands in the semi-finals and that was such a hard match. it showed the ambition we had as a group and although it was a huge disappointment to lose to Germany in the final, I always remember the semi-final as being so special.”

Other treasured memories include the 1996 Olympic Games semi-final and winning the gold medal at the 2005 European Championships in Leipzig. “It was our first win for 30 years and in a wonderful final two minutes we beat the Dutch, scoring twice to win 4-2 after trailing 2-1.” Modest to a fault, he doesn’t believe he ever thought about his contribution to Spanish hockey during their golden years. He says simply
he always tried to give his best for each and every team he played for with the team always foremost in his mind.

Having played in 304 internationals there must be one opposition player who stands out for him. And it comes as no surprise to hear him pick out the legendary Dutch star and last year’s Hall of Fame inductee, Teun de Nooijer. Amat is convinced he was the most complete player ever. “He was fast, skilful, had amazing technique, could score goals and was a wonderful passer. Teun always played at the highest level, was humble and sporting on the pitch. He is an example to every player.”

So what was Amat like to play against? Simon Mason, the former England and Great Britain goalkeeper, faced him at close range over many years. Mason says simply: “When Pol played well, Spain played well. He had incredible hand-eye co-ordination and when he carried the ball down one-handed outside his left he was virtually impossible to tackle. I thought he was always calm and composed, a leader. And he dealt with with officials and umpires professionally and politely. There was just the occasional bit of Spanish emotion!”

Pol confesses he doesn’t really have sporting heroes but if he has to name any it would be the US basketball player Michael Jordan and his
compatriot Rafa Nadal. he explained: “Jordan for his personality, leadership and talent and Rafa for his humility, work ethic and sheer
perseverance.”

Recognition by the European Hockey Federation and joining his former team mate Santi Freixa in the Hall of Fame is, in Amat’s words, a very big honour. He said: “I must admit it was a big surprise receiving the news and this award is special and different because it’s not only for hockey skills.”

So, no regrets looking back on a glittering career as he moves on to other priorities like friends, family, other sports and his job. Perhaps a few more years playing in the Dutch league would have been nice but he doesn’t dwell on it.

It won’t be quite the same watching Spain at the EuroHockey Championships without him in their squad but it was a wonderful privilege to watch him over his 17-year career.

written by Cathy Harris, Hockey Correspondent – The Times (London)
Photographs: EHF/Frank Uijlenbroek