Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth GamesHockey Centre 10/4/18Day 7 AUS v NZ MPhoto: Grant Treeby
Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth GamesHockey Centre 10/4/18Day 7 AUS v NZ MPhoto: Grant Treeby Grant Treeby

One small memento for one big moment.

HOCKEY: It was the moment team mate Jake Whetton placed the game ball in Mark Knowles pocket that perfectly ended the world-class athlete's career.

"He found that ball for me, and that's a small memento that will stay with me,” he said.

"It's not too often that you get to keep those things for yourself, so that was nice.”

Mark Knowles celebrates after winning the Mens Hockey gold medal match against New Zealand at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games on April 14, 2018. (Photo by Michael Willson)
Mark Knowles celebrates after winning the Mens Hockey gold medal match against New Zealand at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games on April 14, 2018. (Photo by Michael Willson) Michael Willson

Waking up a gold-medallist on the Gold Coast, Knowles said the win was something, "he knew that he wanted, the team wanted and that Hockey and Australia wanted.”

The Kookaburras legend led Australia to a 2-0 win over New Zealand in the Commonwealth Games hockey final.

"I'm super proud that we were able to put in a performance that we are proud of. I was really open that we were disappointed after Rio and that this group was moving in a direction that I loved,” he said.

"The coaching is very, very good, but you also need a group of players that buy into the process. These guys are driving what we need now and that's what makes me happy about finishing and feeling like it's the right time.”

Mark Knowles celebrates with his family after winning the Mens Hockey gold medal match against New Zealand at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games on April 14, 2018. (Photo by Michael Willson)
Mark Knowles celebrates with his family after winning the Mens Hockey gold medal match against New Zealand at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games on April 14, 2018. (Photo by Michael Willson) Michael Willson

Feeling comfortable in his decision to retire, Knowles said he hasn't second guessed himself at all after bringing home the gold.

"To feel how I felt last night playing and to feel the change room after, I haven't second guessed myself at all.”

Knowles said he knew the team was going to do what they needed to get into at least the semi-finals

"I've been waiting for this, and it makes it hard to leave when you win,” he said.

"But our sport, and I know in all my experiences, it's not just about winning and losing, you have to do the training everyday, got to go to the meetings, go to the gym, do the extras, and now I'll leave it up to these guys as I watch on and support,” he laughed.

Knowles said that the team only once mentioned wanting to send him off with the gold, because that wasn't their aim.

"There was a moment, like five seconds pre-match that someone mentioned it, but I was really, really clear to the guys that we needed 18 players on the field to do their job.

"In every great team I have played in, one player has never won us big games, and the way that the team contributed last night, if you asked those 8000 people in the crowed who was our best player, you'd get 18 different answers. I love that about this group.”

Mark Knowles celebrates with teammates after winning the Mens Hockey gold medal match against New Zealand at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games on April 14, 2018. (Photo by Michael Willson)
Mark Knowles celebrates with team mates after winning the Mens Hockey gold medal match against New Zealand at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games on April 14, 2018. (Photo by Michael Willson) Michael Willson

Knowles laughed as he spoke about how long the wait felt before he took his penalty shot.

"After about four minutes of standing and waiting there felt like there was a bit of pressure,” he laughed.

"A lot went through my mind. First of all I thought I was flicking against the field player, so all I thought was 'don't miss a stroke against a field player with no gear on'.

"Then I had to wait for the goalie. I knew exactly where I was going, and it was disappointing not to execute it at the end. The way we defended that last seven minutes against 11 field players was very, very good.”

"They say you don't always get fairytales, and I don't believe in fairytales. What I know is that you have to work really hard and you don't get anything you don't deserve, but we earned that win.”

Unsure if his future involves coaching, Knowles is certain he will stay involved and always be there for "the boys”.