A month after announcing his retirement from international hockey, Sardar Singh has revealed that the circumstances in the Indian teams were such that he was forced to announce retirement and high performance director David John blamed him for playing individualistic hockey.
The former Indian hockey captain said that he was neglected for major tournaments and the team management including the coach Sjoerd Marjne rarely communicated with him about their decisions.
“During the last year’s (October) Asia Cup in Dhaka, on the day of our match against Pakistan (in the Super Four which India won 4-0), John called me to his hotel room in the morning and told me that I am playing individualistic hockey and isn’t creating enough chances for the team. A coach can’t do that to a player telling him just hours before an important match that you are not playing well. There’s a time and place for such talks, may be after the match,” he said.
According to Sardar, things began to change after the departure of Roelant Oltmans as the coach of the team. Despite being one of fittest player in the team, he was told he lacked fitness.
Sardar had so far maintained that the decision to retire from international hockey after the Asian Games was entirely his but on Saturday he game details about what transpired into his decision.
“After Oltmans, several things changed for me and the seniors with John and Sjoerd around. I was missing important tournaments. I hoped to get back into the team someday, but on the pretext that I am not fit, they kept dropping me. Honestly, you can’t play under such circumstances,” said the 32-year-old who played 314 matches for India.
Sardar was dropped for the 2018 Hockey World League Final in Bhubaneswar in December. Later, he was selected for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup as a captain, but that team largely consisted of junior players with no senior around. He did not feature in the team for Gold Coast CWG.
And when he wasn’t included in the national camp after the Asiad, Sardar decided to retire.
“I am still fit to play the upcoming World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. My fitness is still good. I scored the highest on the Yo-Yo test parameter. The same John had once told me in Bengaluru that you are the fittest player around. My target is to keep myself fit for next two years to play in different leagues globally,” Sardar said.