NO matter where Wayne Gretzky goes or what he does in life, he always remembers his father’s wise words.
“Skate where the puck’s going, not where it has been.”
It’s a philosophical match-related message Gretzky has applied to every aspect of his life to become a living example of looking forward to achieve your dreams.
“I was lucky that I had great parents who gave me opportunity,” Gretzky told The Sunday Telegraph.
“Sometimes we forget that the greatest athletes in the world also had parents that drove them to all the practices and games.
“I now have a clothing line in Canada, a winery and a restaurant.
“I’ve know my limitations and my life is hockey and I’ve been fortunate enough to partner with some great people that have really guided and helped me be successful since I’ve retired as a player.”
Gretzky hung up the skates 16 years ago but his reputation as the greatest ice hockey player still precedes him.
It’s why the iconic Canadian is greeted with fanfare every time he shows his face in public.
There is more to this remarkable man than his 61 NHL records in a stellar career spanning 20 years.
People endear themselves to Gretzky’s story of triumph against the odds.
The Brantford-born talent who defied his slender stature, strength and speed with unrivalled intelligence on the ice.
“I wasn’t a big strong athlete like other guys, so I had to utilise my hockey common sense,” Gretzky says simply.
“From the time I was two-and-a-half years old I never changed my style.
“I was also really lucky and I didn’t get lot of injuries.
“My wife always said one of the great attributes I had as a player was it’s an art not to get hurt.
“I had a minor knee injury and a little back issue for half a season, but other than that I’m okay.”
It’s a clear bill of health that enables Gretzky to play tennis with his wife every week, while he also devotes time to the golf course.
The man dubbed ‘The Great One’ is the future father-in-law to Dustin Johnson, one of the world’s most promising golfers.
Gretzky has been the perfect role model for Johnson, who despite winning last week’s US Open, often struggles with the external expectations placed on him.
Ice hockey’s best may enjoy the odd game of golf, but his heart will always beat for the rush of donning the skates.
“When I get on the ice I always have a lot of fun,” he smiles.
“I wish I could still play — I miss it dearly — but I also understand physically I just can’t compete at that level now.”
It’s why Gretzky, now 55, gives back to his beloved ice hockey through his foundation for underprivileged children.
“We buy hockey equipment, ice time and try and give kids an opportunity to play,” he explains.
“Because if they can’t afford to play — it’s not fair, so through the money we raise we try and help the kids who are less fortunate.
“I tell people this all the time, but everything I have in my life is because of hockey.
“I’ve got to see the world, meet great people and have great memories.
“But the one thing that I was really proud of in my career was that I played every game with everything I had.
“I still played a lot of bad games like every other athlete, but more importantly in my heart I know I played the best I could.”
It’s a mantra Gretzky lives every day.