Calm and reliable Vanasch behind Belgium's glory

Vincent Vanasch stood like a rock as Belgium drubbed the Netherlands in penalty shootout of the Hockey world Cup final.

Vincent Vanasch played a pivotal role in Belgium's maiden World Cup win.   -  BISWARANJAN ROUT

If Pirmin Blaak was the hero for Netherlands in its penalty shootout against Australia in the semifinals a day ago, it was Vincent Vanasch for Belgium in the nail-biting title clash of the Hockey World Cup at the Kalinga Stadium here on Sunday.

The Belgium team had faith in the reliable Vanasch, who made Jeroen Hertzberger shoot over the post in ‘sudden death’ and thwart the Netherlands in the final.

“There was no practice as yesterday was the semifinals. We were just relaxed, only did a little bit of cycling,” said a smiling Vanasch, who allowed only two Dutch players to find the mark out of six attempts.

Read: Belgium beats Netherlands to claim maiden title

Vanasch said his familiarity with the Dutch players helped him in the crucial situation. “My plan was to just go like (I do) in training. I know them well because I played in Netherlands before and we saw what they do on videos. I had really good strikers with me (as my team-mates) and that helped.

“You need to keep your cool. You have to switch on and switch off. It’s part of the job. You have to make the stops for 60 minutes and (then) you have to be there to keep it out of the net.”

In August last year, Vanasch had handed his team a similar win by defending the Belgian post sturdily against Germany in the semifinals of the Euro Hockey Nations championships in Amstelveen.

“The last time I did it was in the semis of the Euro... God is beautiful,” said Vanasch.

Belgium captain Thomas Briels said he was sure that Vanasch would pull it off for the Red Lions and gift them their maiden gold medal. “I was very confident and I told the guys Vini is very focused and he is not going to let the team down. Utmost respect for him, he is very professional,” said Briels.