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Exclusive | Former India hockey captain Sardar Singh decides to call it a day, says it’s time for next generation to take over

The veteran of 350 international matches has decided to call it a day from the international arena. Sardar Singh has informed Hockey India and national coach Harendra Singh about the decision.

other sports Updated: Sep 12, 2018 16:47 IST
Saurabh Duggal
Saurabh Duggal
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Sardar Singh,Indian hockey,Asian Games
Sardar Singh of India #8 fights for the ball against Kenji Kitazato of Japan #11 during Men's Hockey Pool A Preliminary Round match between Japan and India on day six of the Asian Games on August 24, 2018 in Jakarta, Indonesia.(Getty Images)

Sardar Singh, a veteran of Indian hockey has finally decided to hang his boots. With over 350 international appearances for the country, the experienced campaigner was part of squad in the recently concluded Asian Games where India won bronze medal.

“I have played almost 12 years for the country and it’s a long time. Now it’s the time for the next generation to take over the baton,” 32-year-old Sardar Singh told Hindustan Times during an exclusive conversation.

Sardar leaves behind a rich legacy, having led the side, he was a player who did it on his own terms. With age not on his side, Sardar was left out of India’s squad for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. A fighter as he is, Sardar decided to work hard on his fitness and that led to his comeback to the Indian team for the Champions Trophy, where he helped the team finish with the silver medal.

In the Yo-Yo test (fitness test) before the Jakarta Asian Games, Sardar was among the fittest players in the squad. Sardar worked on his fitness and came back with a yo-yo score of 21.4 not only bettering his own record of 21.3 but in the process leaving Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli, considered India’s fittest athlete, behind.

Also Read: Sardar Singh beats Virat Kohli in Yo-Yo test

“I am fit to play good hockey for at least couple of more years. But there is always a time to plan what is next for you. And I personally feel this is the best time to start thinking about new ventures,” says Sardar, who is a DSP in Haryana Police.

“I have discussed about my future with Hockey India and national coach Harendra Singh and they are convinced about my decision.”

“Hockey is an integral part of my life and will always remain important for me. The only thing is that now you will see me in a different role. I will continue representing my department Haryana Police and state in the domestic circuit.”

Starting his hockey journey from Sirsa, Sardar was the lynchpin of the Indian squad, something the present coach Harendra realised before Asian Games. Needing an experienced hand at the back, Sardar was recalled to marshal India’s defence. He did a fine job till the team, favourite to win gold and also qualify for Tokoyo Olympics, stumbled against the feisty Malaysians in the semi-final. India beat Pakistan to settle for bronze.

With Olympic qualification still not done, it will be difficult for the Indian team to fill the void left behind by a man who won several top honours with the team. Sardar Singh won a gold medal at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, and two silver medals at the Commonwealth Games in 2010 and 2014 respectively.

He made his junior debut in 2003-4 on the tour to Poland and his senior debut came against arch-rivals Pakistan in 2006.

First Published: Sep 12, 2018 15:42 IST