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Andrew Bridge Talks Retirement

Andrew Bridge is a bone-fide BBL legend and on top of that has a Commonwealth Games bronze medal to boot!

Playing in the Newcastle Eagles team that swept the board, Bridge moved to Sheffield where he closed out his career by winning a little bit more!

In his final season with the Sharks last year, Bridge helped the team to achieve a BBL Trophy victory against the much favoured Leicester Riders.

He spoke to us about his career, his future, the future of the BBL and what he believes the Sheffield Sharks can achieve.

He said: "When I left Sheffield for the first time [in 2002] it was a big event in my life, it was probably the best thing that could have happened as I had to move away and out of my comfort zone."

"The biggest highlight for me was playing for Newcastle in 2005/06 when we won the clean sweep and then to play for England at the Commonwealth Games and win a bronze medal - it was the best year of my career."

"At Newcastle there was an expectation to win and at times when we won it was more of a relief than enjoyment."

In 2012, Fab Flournoy decided that he needed to freshen up the squad and Bridge was one of the experienced players to depart after a decade.

But Andrew Bridge would carry on playing - as mentioned previously in Sheffield where he ironically would win more than Newcastle Eagles.

"The start of the season wasn't very good until around christmas when we got a formula together and found an identity - we came together"

"We didn't expect to win [the BBL Trophy] but we were hard to beat and it was a dramatic end to the final which luckily went our way.

"When you don't expect to win it is pure enjoyment as there is no real pressure or expectation that you will win."

"I went back to Newcastle once with Sheffield and it wasn't the easiest thing in the world, it was a distraction [that he had played there and was returning] and they had just lost in the Cup or Trophy and we lost by around 25 points."

So with the success of the Sheffield Sharks last season, why did Andrew Bridge decide to retire?

"It was a combination of reasons, first of all living away from my family was harder than I expected, plus I had other work opportunities."

"The main sporting reason was that I wanted to go out on top and winning a trophy means that I retire a winner."

"There is always a temptation to keep going, but I don't think I could [play on] a daily basis, I loved playing the big games but struggled against teams with less wins."

"I think it was the right decision and I've been considering it since January/February, so it was a thought out decision.

"I don't have any regrets over anything which happened in my career as my career turned out better than I could have possibly imagined."

Now he is retired, Bridge can look upon the BBL season from the outside and has cast his judgement on the Sharks.

"The young players now have more talent than I did, but they have to learn what it takes to win, some young players - not from any specific team - think they know it all but they have to learn."

"I didn't want to walk away from a game thinking that someone on the other team had tried harder than me."

"The BBL is different now from when I was part of the 05/06 Newcastle team, there is no 'power team', I think talent is spread better down the league and it is a lot more competitive; but I wouldn't say it is a stronger league."

"For the Sharks next season, I think if the American players they've signed are good then they can be a top 3 or 4 team, they have a deep roster and will play high intensity basketball."

So what does the future hold for our now retired BBL legend?

"I already some stuff for the Youth Sports Trust and that involves improving sports provisions in schools and mentoring students."

"It isn't basketball coaching, it's trying to improve their attitudes, some people aren't interested in sport, but it's about improving the attainment levels."

"I'm not sure that coaching basketball full-time is something that I would want to do, so this is what I am doing at the moment."

"I will probably go to a few BBL games as I have friends within the sport, but I won't make a habit of it as my wife will kill me!"

Follow Andrew on Twitter: @AndrewBridge6

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