Star midfielder gives new meaning to all-round game | india | Hindustan Times
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Star midfielder gives new meaning to all-round game

india Updated: Feb 28, 2012 23:53 IST
Saurabh Duggal
Saurabh Duggal
Hindustan Times
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Sandeep Singh's charismatic presence near the goalmouth may have obliterated the others, but the real hero of India's title triumph in the Olympic Qualifiers was the sturdy Sardar Singh.

The 26-year-old Sirsa player's pivotal role may have been lost in his best friend's goal glut, but it was Sardar's precise penalty-corner pushes that fed Sandeep's hunger.

"Sardar is a highly talented player. He is a class act and can be rated among the best in the world," said national coach Michael Nobbs.

The lone Indian in the World Hockey XI for the last two years, is perhaps the only player in the country who can be called an all-rounder in the true sense. He has played in all the positions - defence, midfield and forward-line - and won the 'player-of-the-tournament' award in all three positions.

"I just need to stand under the goalpost to be called an all-in-one player, but that is not my mind. Wherever the team has required my services, I have promptly stood up," said Sardar.

"When I was told to play as a defender for the first time, I was a bit confused as scoring goals was my only ambition. But I soon realised that it's not the individual but team effort that wins matches. So, no matter where you play, what's important is how much you contribute to the team's cause," he added.

Sardar (26) started his international career playing in the forward-line as 'right in'. Later, he moved to the midfield and proved to be an able linkman. However, after the 2010 World Cup, he shifted to defence and bagged the 'player-of-the-tournament' award at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in May 2010).

The shuffling continued and he again found himself playing conduit in the midfield - a position which suits him best. The Olympic Qualifiers over, his focus is now on the London Games.

"In 2010, our focus was on the Commonwealth and Asian Games and we did pretty well. Our next target was qualifying for the Olympics and we achieved that. Now, we want more and only an Olympic medal can satisfy us," said Sardar, who picked up the sport only because of his elder brother, Didar Singh, who also donned India colours.

"We know that the target of an Olympic medal is quite big, but we will lift the standard of our game in the next four months," he added.