VERY few sportsmen get to go out at the top, but in the case of Scottish ice hockey player Colin Shields, it seems the stars have aligned for him to retire on the ultimate high.

The Belfast Giants man is in the final weeks of a glittering career after announcing his retirement last week and he enters it with something to celebrate.

The champagne corks were popping as Giants hosted their end-of-season awards when it was confirmed they had won the the Elite League championship after fellow challengers Cardiff Devils were beaten 3-1 by Coventry Blaze on Sunday night.

The Scot had received a huge ovation from the Belfast support after the Giants’ final regular season game ended in a 6-4 win over Dundee Stars 24 hours earlier.

Title glory means a shot at the Grand Slam (winning the three trophies on offer to Elite League teams) is very much on. Completing that hat trick would Shields up nicely for a swansong at the World Championships in Slovakia in May, when the sport’s big hitters Canada and USA will be lying in wait.

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Emotionally, it’s been quite a week for the 39-year-old. He’s always dreamed on winning the title during a match but yet again he missed out on the opportunity as news came through that Cardiff’s grip on the title had slipped.

“In the three times, I’ve won the league, we’ve never done it on the ice,” he laughed. “In my first year [2006], Newcastle lost to Edinburgh on a Thursday and I got a text so we got together to celebrate later.

“In 2014, our game was earlier when we played in Nottingham Panthers and we got word that the Cardiff and Sheffield Steelers result went in our favour so to be in a room with the fans getting ready to enjoy an end-of-season night when we found out was unique, but brilliant.

“We went in with a little bit of hope after finishing our campaign on the Saturday, but hearing the news coming through when we were getting ready for the night, the place erupted and it made what was going to be a good occasion even better.

“It’s been quite a week for me though after announcing my retirement. I’ve played for a long time and the messages have been outstanding. I seem to have picked a good time to retire, with the play-offs coming up and the chance to line up some top players in the World Championships, too.”

Glasgow-born Shields is, in many respects, a living legend, having won everything going in his career. He was drafted to the NHL in 2000 with Philadelphia Flyers and farmed out to affiliate teams before returning to sign for the Giants in 2005.

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Other than short spells with Newcastle Vipers, Sheffield Steelers and French side Morzine, he’s been a Giant all the way and was given a testimonial by the club last year for his services to the organisation.

But, before the skates are hung up for the final time, he’s eyeing up completing the trophy set this season with the play-offs, beginning this weekend when they take Coventry Blaze for a place in the finals weekend in Nottingham the week after. And the thoughts of completing a Grand Slam is something that definitely appeals to him.

He added: “It’s been a while since anyone has done that, but we’ll enjoy this trophy for the next day or so before we get back to work. Coventry have given us some good games this season so we’ll be ready for another challenge.

“After that, hopefully we’ll be in the final four, anything can happen. They’re always tight games the you get to the last weekend and it would be a great way to go out.”