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Fox has scent of an Olympic chance

PUBLISHED: 16:08 17 March 2010 | UPDATED: 14:57 24 August 2010

German hockey player Florian Fuchs (R) vies for the ball with England's Dan Fox (L) during their World Cup 2010 semifinal match at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium in New Delhi on March 11, 2010. Germany beat England 4-1 to reach the Final.     AFP PHOTO/ MANAN VATSYAYANA (Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)

German hockey player Florian Fuchs (R) vies for the ball with England's Dan Fox (L) during their World Cup 2010 semifinal match at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium in New Delhi on March 11, 2010. Germany beat England 4-1 to reach the Final. AFP PHOTO/ MANAN VATSYAYANA (Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)

2010 AFP

By Ian Cooper 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

By Ian Cooper

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.

"I was a bit dazed when I got the call really, but obviously excited," said defender Fox, who was called up as a last-minute replacement for the injured Simon Mantell.

"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!"

Fox missed England's 3-2 win over 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 took them to the knockout stages thanks to a narrow 3-2 win against the home nation in front of 15,000 fans at 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 and it helped me settle down.

"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.

"So to beat them and do a lap of honour at the end was the sort of thing that doesn't come round often - it was one of those special occasions that might never happen again."

But England's hopes of making the final were dashed by their old arch-rivals. Two-time winners Germany proved a bridge too far as they marched to a 4-1 win on their way to the final, where they would go on to defeat Australia.

"We were confident going into that game, but they were typically German - efficient and well organised! But we got off to a bad start and never really recovered," said Fox.

"That was probably the most disappointing thing, but I'm sure we'll be able to look back in a few weeks and be pleased with how we did."

Fox is now focused 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.

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