Bhubaneshwar: Former India captain and recently-retired ace midfielder Sardar Singh on Saturday called out Hockey India's High Performance Director David John and former men’s coach Sjoerd Marijne for ending his career after the Asian Games.
Sardar was off-colour at the continental event in Jakarta and Palembang, following which he was dropped from the national camp for the Asian Champions Trophy. The 32-year-old promptly called time on his 12-year-long international career, and though he didn’t immediately spell out a clear reason for his departure, there were murmurs about John wanting him out of the team.
At the ongoing Ekamra Sports Literary Festival in Bhubaneshwar, Sardar broke his silence and narrated the sequence of events that led to his retirement.
“A lot of things led to it (retirement),” he said. “Things started to change after Roelant Oltmans left. Every new coach has his ideas, and as a player I understand that, but too much of chopping and changing of coaches and players does no good to the team.”
Oltmans, who took over as men’s team’s chief coach in August 2015, was shown the door in September last year after the team could manage only a sixth place in Hockey World League. He was later replaced by Marijne.
“I was initially told that I was the fittest player in the team, but then I was dropped from the side. Like I said, I fully understand that coaches want to try out new boys, but one should not change the core 10-12 players of the team,” Sardar, who represented India in over 300 international games, said.
“I was in the team that won the Asia Cup in 2017, so I was hoping to continue (to be picked). But I was dropped without being given a reason or explanation.
"During that Asia Cup, 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 not creating enough chances for the team. Imagine doing that to a player hours before a high-pressure India-Pakistan match. I don't think it was the right way or the right time to bring that up," he said.
Sardar was then handed over the reins for Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, and the team finished fifth out of six participants.
“I was sent to Malaysia with a bunch of young boys, and was later not picked for the Commonwealth Games. That made me doubt my abilities. I started thinking if I am good enough to play.”
Among the fittest members of the team, Sardar is known to have recorded a score of 21.4 in Yo Yo test.
“My game was never built on speed, but I was always fit. So when I read reports of my fitness being questioned, I was just not able to get it. Then the loss to Malaysia at the Asian Games was the last straw. I didn’t want to continue,” he said.
Marijne was axed after India failed to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games, while John has held on to his position.
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Updated Date: Nov 03, 2018 21:02:59 IST