“I’m totally gutted, really upset. Cheryl and I were just saying the other day how we hadn’t got the chance to play in a major competition together, like the Commonwealth Games, but now we won’t get that chance,” said teammate Aimee Clark.
Clark, a younger member of the squad, continued: “She’s one of the best players I’ve ever played with. I’ve looked up to her since before I moved up from U21’s. She’s awesome. I’ll miss her banter; she’s a very funny girl.”
photo George Wilkie
Valentine, who received her 100th cap over the summer, explained:
“I’ve had 8 years at senior level along with that a huge level of commitment. Hockey has been my number one priority during this time and everything else has had to revolve around it. With the next major tournament not for another two years and coming out of the GB training squad, I just felt it was the right time. They say you’ll just know when it’s the right time to retire and I believe it’s that time for me now.”
Senior women’s coach Keith Joss commented: “Cheryl is one of the best passers from midfield that we’ve had in a while. She’s able to do things in an ‘outside the box’ kind of way, extraordinary and unexpected to the opposition. We recognise her contribution to the team and she’s finishing on a high from the EuroHockey Nations Trophy. You don’t replace someone with 100 caps easily.”
Echoing Joss, Valentine also noted finishing on top: “Getting my 100th cap, a Gold Medal in Lithuania and promotion back to the European Championships is a great way to finish. The thing I’ll miss most is being part of the team, the camaraderie and banter.”
When asked if she’d still be seen around the game, Cheryl was quick to say she wasn’t about to dive into another heavy commitment such as coaching but she still intends to continue club play with Bonagrass Grove. The 27-year-old physiotherapist said she would like to study for a Masters in Perth, Australia and in general enjoy being able to go on holiday a lot more often and spend more time with family and friends.