Iconic Sardar retires

New Delhi: Former India hockey captain Sardar Singh decided Wednesday to call time on his illustrious career. He said that he had played enough in the last 12 years and now it’s time for the youngsters to take over.

Sardar informed he made the decision after a disappointing Asian Games where India failed to defend their title and returned with a bronze medal. With age and speed not on his side, Sardar’s performance at the Asiad came under scanner.

Yes, I have decided to retire from international hockey. I have played enough hockey in my career. Twelve years is a long time. Now it’s time for the future generation to take over,” Sardar said.

“I took the decision after consultation with my family in Chandigarh, Hockey India (HI) and my friends. I think it’s the right time to think about life beyond hockey,” he added.

Interestingly, Sardar, during the Asian Games had said he still has hockey left in him and was aiming to play at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

However, he had a change of heart amid speculation that he was forced to retire after his name was dropped from the 25-strong core group of national campers announced Wednesday by HI. Asked about his exclusion from the group, Sardar evaded the question.

Sardar made his senior debut for India against Pakistan in 2006 and since then he has been a vital cog in the Indian team’s midfield.

The 32-year-old made over 300 international appearances for India and captained the national team for eight long years from 2008 to 2016 before handing the responsibility to PR Sreejesh. He was also the youngest player to captain the Indian team when he led the side at the 2008 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. He received the Arjuna award in 2012 and Padma Shree in 2015. He represented India in two Olympics.

“Fitness is not the reason behind my decision. I am fit enough to play hockey for some more years. But there is always a time for everything and I feel it’s time for me to move on in life,” Sardar asserted.

Sardar said he has conveyed his decision to chief coach Harendra Singh. He however, will continue to play hockey in the domestic circuit.

Hailing from Sirsa in Haryana, Sardar’s career was not devoid of controversy either. He was accused of rape by an Indian-origin British woman, a charge which he vehemently denied and was also given a clean chit by the special investigation team of Ludhiana Police.

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