NOT since Sydney in 2000 has someone born in Wales played hockey for Great Britain’s men at an Olympic Games.

However, all that could change in Japan next year after Griffithstown’s Jacob Draper broke into the current squad just last month.

Head coach Danny Kerry’s team, though, have not yet secured their place at Tokyo 2020 – they need to beat Malaysia over two legs this weekend to do so.

Lose the tie and it will be the first time the British men have not featured at an Olympics since Moscow in 1980.

Draper, 21, is bidding to follow in the footsteps of three-time Olympian David Luckes, whose final Games appearance came Down Under 19 years ago.

Born in Newport and raised in Bridgwater, Somerset, goalkeeper Luckes won 125 caps for England and Great Britain, as well as a Commonwealth Games bronze medal in 1998.

Incredibly, when Luckes made his Olympic debut in 1992 there was another Newport-born player in the squad, captain Robert Clift.

Clift, who also represented England, had been part of the side that famously won gold in Seoul four years earlier, Great Britain memorably beating Germany 3-1 in the final.

“Competing at the Olympics is the pinnacle of any athletes’ career,” said Draper, who used to play football for the Cardiff City academy.

“You play a sport like mine to eventually represent your country at an Olympic Games.

“There is still a long way to go for me. First of all, we have to make sure we do everything we can this weekend to beat Malaysia and get a place in Tokyo.

“It has been a very long time since Great Britain didn’t have a men’s team at an Olympic Games, so there is pressure on us.”

He added: “This weekend is our last chance to qualify and the nerves are starting to build.

“We’re ranked higher than Malaysia, but they are a very good side and have a style of play that’s a lot different to ours.

“But as long as we do our jobs and play how we know we can then we’ll be okay.”

One of six siblings, Draper made his Wales debut aged 17 and now has close to 50 international matches under his belt.

The midfielder plays his club hockey for Hampstead & Westminster after graduating from Swansea University in the summer with a degree in economics.

He was included in Kerry’s 18-man squad for Saturday's and Sunday’s clashes with Malaysia at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre having impressed on his GB debut against Spain in October.

That came after catching the eye while part of the GB Elite Development Programme (EDP) over the last couple of years and putting in fine performances for Wales at the EuroHockey Championships.

“Jacob is an exciting, new inclusion to the team and brings a tenacity, speed and agility to defence, plus excellent assuredness on the ball,” said Kerry.

Draper first picked up a hockey stick while a pupil at Monmouth School, coming to the aid of his fellow students to help fulfil a fixture.

“I was a football player to start with,” he said. “I played football from the age of seven and was part of the Cardiff City academy as a youngster.

“One day the school hockey team were short of players and I gave it a go and loved it, and from around 14 or 15 I focused purely on hockey.

“From Monmouth I went to Rossall School in the north of England and my hockey progressed massively.

“I’ve got no regrets about finishing football because it’s such a cut-throat industry and not a very nice environment unless you’re in that one per cent who go on to make it big.

“My parents were great with me, but you’d see some who wanted their kids to be the next Cristiano Ronaldo, which, in all honesty, isn’t going to happen.

“There’s always that little voice in your head telling you that you could have made it, but then you realise you enjoy what you are doing now.

“I’m very fortunate to be a full-time professional athlete, and there are thousands of people who would want to be in my position.”

Draper has come a long way in a very short space of time since joining Gwent Hockey Club – and he could go even further with a victory this weekend.