(Photo: FIH)

In the first in a series on Hockey World Cup heroes, we catch up with one of Australia's most famous sporting exports. Now plying her coaching skills to great effect in the Netherlands, our first World Cup hero has a trophy cabinet full of gold medals.

There was a very good reason that Alyson Annan was voted the Best Female Hockey Player in the World in 1999. Two Olympic gold medals, two Hockey World Cups and four Champions Trophies, she played 228 times for the Hockeyroos and scored 166 goals. In total, nine gold medals from major international tournaments adorn the Australian's trophy cabinet.

The year after she was lauded as the best female player on the planet, things got even better for Alyson as she led the Australian team to gold in front of a home crowd at the 2000 Summer Olympics. Following that victory, she retired from international hockey and moved to the Netherlands where she played for HC Klein Zwitserland from The Hague. Three years later, she retired as a player but continued to coach at the club. 

Her winning ways at major internationals continued however; in 2004 she was assistant to the head coach of the Netherlands women's team, Marc Lammers, helping to steer the Netherlands to silver at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens – losing out to Germany in the final.

In 2013, Alyson was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, the highest national sporting honour in Australia. 

Alyson now lives in Amsterdam with her partner, the former Netherlands captain Carole Thate, and the couple have two boys. She runs her own sports consulting company, Beyond the Limits, and last year became coach to AHBC Dames, a leading hockey club in the Netherlands.