Former captain of India hockey Sardar Singh, who announced his retirement from the international team in September this year, opened up on the reasons for his decision. Speaking to newspaper Times of India in Bhubaneswar on Saturday, the former midfielder blamed Hockey India’s (HI) High-Performance Director (HPD), David John, for making his decision to call time on his career.
“There were a lot of reasons behind my decision (to retire). After Oltmans was removed as coach, a lot of things happened. John and another foreign coach (Marijne) wanted to try new players. We won the (2017) Asia Cup and I was hoping to continue. But I was dropped without any discussion,” Singh said.
“Then I was sent to the (2018) Sultan Azlan Shah Cup with some junior players, but when I came back, I was ignored again for the Commonwealth Games (CWG) in Gold Coast. So I started doubting myself at times, started questioning myself, despite being fit,” he further added.
Singh, who made 350 international appearances for India in his 12-year-long career, added that he was scoring high points in the yo-yo test and remains uncertain on why he was called “slow” by John in an interview.
“I was never fast, my game has never been like that. So I don’t know why John said that. I was told that I am playing individual hockey and then John asked me to play as a free man, which I accepted as well,” he said.
Singh, who captained India for eight years from 2008 to 2016, further added that he was not happy with the coach Marijne’s decision to make constant changes to the team ahead of the Commonwealth Games 2018, in which failed to grab a medal. “Every coach has his own methods. We were called to the breakfast and told that there is a list posted on your room door. Those who have their name on it can come to the ground, the others will be briefed later,” he said.
“You generally change 2-3 players before a tournament, not the seniors who are the core of a team. That pack of 10-12 players should rather be given confidence. If you change players suddenly, and also coaches, it makes things difficult, especially in a team sport,” he said.
After the CWG 2018, Marijne was dropped from his role as coach. India grabbed the bronze medal in the Asia Cup after which Sardar Singh was dropped from the list of probables selected for the Asian Champions Trophy, following which he announced his decision to retire from the sport.