Argentina striker Willy speaks about a week he will never forget
After years of developing a reputation as one of the most dangerous goal-scorers on the European club scene, Guillermo “Willy” Schickendantz is finally proving himself on the world stage.
Last Saturday, the 33-year-old achieved his life-long ambition by playing international hockey for Argentina – the country of his birth – when he stepped onto the field against Ireland in the Argentina Hockey Men’s Champions Challenge 1.
However, just wearing the shirt was never going to be enough for a player who became one of the biggest stars of the Euro Hockey League thanks to his stunning goal-scoring exploits with Club Egara and Club de Campo.
Four games into his debut tournament for Argentina, Schickendantz currently leads the Field Goal scorers league table, having notched three goals in four games, and will be determined to add to that tally on Saturday when his team plays Ireland in the Semi Finals.
Following his team’s 5-1 Quarter Final victory against Canada, Willy Schickendantz kindly took the time to speak to FIH.CH about his remarkable week as well as his ambitions for the future.
FIH.CH: Hi Willy, thank you for taking the time to talk to FIH.CH. Are you enjoying the tournament here in Quilmes?
Guillermo Schickendantz: “Yes, definitely. It has been one of my dreams to play for Argentina, so I am really happy to play here in Quilmes.”
FIH.CH: To make your debut on home soil must have been a very proud and emotional moment for you. At the age of 33, did you ever think that your chance of representing Argentina had gone?
GS: “Yes I did. When I decided this year to leave Europe and come home to Argentina I thought it might be the end of my career, you know? But things have happened and it turned out that I had another opportunity. But yes, I really thought that the end of my career in Europe might be the end of my hockey career.”
FIH.CH: With three goals in four games, it is clear that you are reproducing the form which earned you a reputation as one of the most feared club strikers in Europe. It must be a great feeling to be making an impact on the world stage.
GS: “Yes! The most difficult thing was scoring that first goal because I put myself under a lot of pressure to perform so it was a relief. Now that pressure has gone and I know that the most important thing is that we win our matches. If I can help the team to win by scoring then that is perfect. I am certainly more relaxed now, and want to help the team to win.”
FIH.CH: Are your family actually here in Quilmes watching you play?
GS: “All of my family came to watch both my first and my second match for Argentina. My father and my wife are now here and maybe more will be coming to watch at the weekend, which is really great.”
FIH.CH: Congratulations on your Quarter Final victory over Canada. What are your thoughts about Ireland, your opponents in the Semi Finals?
GS: “We played against them in a friendly match one week ago. It was really hard, and we also played them in the Pool [Argentina were 4-3 winners], but I think that this match will be very different. A Semi Final is always going to be a hard match, and both teams are trying to get to the Final so it will be hard.”
FIH.CH: This Argentina team is clearly very talented. Obviously the immediate aim is to win the Champions Challenge 1, but what are the group hoping to achieve over the coming years?
GS: “I think that the mentality of the group right now is to play a great tournament. For most of the guys it has been a very hard year what with the preparation for the Olympic Games in the summer, so I think everyone is only thinking about the next two matches and trying to win this tournament. After that we will come up with a new plan for the tournaments that will take place next year.”
FIH.CH: And you? What are your personal ambitions with this Argentina team? Are you just taking it one tournament at a time, or are you looking further ahead?
GS: “When they [Argentina’s coaches] gave me the opportunity to play I didn’t want to put myself under pressure by thinking that if I don’t play well I will not be selected for the next tournament, so I am trying to enjoy this moment and to stay relaxed. But of course I have been waiting for this chance for a lot of years and now I want to stay with the team. I really want to remain in perfect condition for the next events … I can still run and score, so I hope to keep going for as long as I can.”
Guillermo Schickendantz will be in action with his Argentina side on Saturday when his team take on Ireland at 1700 ( CET / GMT -3) in the tournament Semi Finals. To see the full match schedule for Saturday, please click here.
You can keep up to speed on all the developments from the tournament on the FIH website, which will be regularly updated with the latest news, league tables and images. The FIH will also be posting updates from the tournament to twitter via @FIH_Hockey, using the hashtag #championschallenge.