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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kholopov a Global Hockey Citizen

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Vitaly Kholopov calls himself a global citizen -- he's represented three different nations in field hockey World Cups.

Kholopov, a key cog of the Belgium team competing in the current World Cup in Kuala Lumpur, represented the Soviet Union in 1990 and his native Belarus in 1994.

"I'm field hockey's global citizen. There's no other description that fits me anymore," Kholopov told reporters.

"I've got this record of sorts but it never occurred to me that I'll end up representing three different nations in World Cup tournaments.

"You can't plan these things and I never even dreamed of achieving this distinction," he said.

"It was sheer destiny ... circumstances ruled my fate."

Kholopov, 32, made his first World Cup appearance in Lahore, Pakistan, in 1990 for the Soviet Union as a young midfielder, catching the eye of critics with his compact tackling and sudden bursts upfront.

The 20-year-old played an important role in his team, securing the sixth spot in the 12-nation tournament, keeping the Soviet Union among the elite field hockey-playing nations.

After the breakup of the Soviet Union, he donned the jersey of Belarus for the 1994 World Cup in Sydney.

Belarus, which finished 12th in Sydney, failed to make the 1998 World Cup in Utrecht, Netherlands, and Kholopov set up a computer business in the Belgian city of Antwerp.

Continuing to make occasional appearances in local field hockey matches, Kholopov attracted the attention of Belgium's hockey bosses, who could not believe their luck.

He was drafted into Belgium's World Cup side, despite failing to take time off from his business to play in the Champions Challenge tournament in Kuala Lumpur in December.

"I somehow manage to juggle my computer business with playing hockey," said Kholopov, a father of three. "The sport's not very popular in Belgium and we've got limited resources, but it hasn't reduced my passion for the game."

Kholopov said his collection of national jerseys was unlikely to extend beyond the current three, even though he might still be around for another World Cup.

"But I don't really see myself in yet another country's playing jersey the next time," he said. "It would be too much of a shock for the hockey world."