Hockey

‘Tendulkar helped me overcome self-doubts’

Tough decision: Former India hockey captain Sardar Singh, centre, who announced his retirement, admitted it wasn’t easy walking away.

Tough decision: Former India hockey captain Sardar Singh, centre, who announced his retirement, admitted it wasn’t easy walking away.  

Not having won the FIH Player-of-the-Year award one of Sardar’s regrets

Sardar Singh’s interaction with a handful of select media here on Saturday afternoon saw the former captain of the India hockey team reveal some interesting secrets.

Like the time he sought Sachin Tendulkar’s support to overcome self-doubts. “After I was dropped for the Commonwealth Games, I asked how he handled criticism.

“He told me to go back and watch my best performances, talk to myself before the next game, try to think of my role in it. He has always been a mentor. Dhanraj Pillay is a mentor, players like Jamie Dwyer and Teun de Nooijer also,” he said.

There is little Sardar hasn’t seen in his 12-year long career and admitted it wasn’t easy walking away. “I will miss the team, the dressing room and the memories.

“When you think about it all you want to do is continue playing for the country. I will play for at least 2-3 years more in European leagues,” he revealed.

But the pain of not getting a farewell worthy of his stature was evident. “I feel happy to have actually got a chance to announce my retirement. It’s a good thing for youngsters also when you walk away with respect. It’s all good the way it has been,” he said.

Backs Harendra

Asked about having a foreign coach, Sardar backed the incumbent Harendra Singh. “I think Harendra is one of the best. I started against Pakistan under him as a junior and played my last game against them under him as a senior.

“He has grown a lot as a coach, he has done all the FIH courses and is well-respected and has proven himself every time he has got a chance — whether with seniors, juniors or the girls,” he said.

One of his few regrets is not having won the FIH Player-of-the-Year award. “It was a dream. That and winning a World Cup or Olympic medal. Other than that, by the grace of God and the support of my teammates, I have everything — respect, fame, decent money also. Can’t ask for more,” he shrugged.

For the next generation, he has a few tips. “We need to learn how to kill time in the final minutes and how to handle big moments in big matches. It is only about communication, something every player has to work on individually and as a unit.

“If they can do it, we will be on the podium of World Cups and Olympics very soon,” he hoped.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 7:38:56 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/hockey/tendulkar-helped-me-overcome-self-doubts/article24957427.ece

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