Rupinder Pal Singh retires from Indian hockey team

India drag flicker Rupinder Pal Singh announces his retirement from the national team, less than two months after having clinched a historic bronze at the Tokyo Games.

Rupinder Pal Singh (right) during the Tokyo Games. - AP

Drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh, who played a starring role in the Indian hockey team's historic bronze-winning Tokyo Olympics campaign, on Thursday announced his international retirement with immediate effect "to make way for youngsters".

The 30-year-old, regarded as one of the best drag-flickers of the country, represented India in 223 matches.

 

Nicknamed 'Bob', Rupinder scored four crucial goals, including a penalty stroke in the third-place match against Germany, during India's bronze-medal winning campaign in Tokyo. The decision came as a surprise given that going by his fitness and form, he clearly had some more years left in the game.

Soon after making his international debut in May 2010 in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Rupinder became a vital cog in India's backline and along with VR Raghunath, formed a lethal dragflick combination.

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Apart from his fearless defending, Rupinder was the 'go-to' man for any skipper for penalty corner and spot situations.

Rupinder's well-built physique and tall frame was a dangerous sight for any team's defence in penalty corner situations. He was also known for his smart variations.

He was named as vice-captain of India's 2014 World Cup campaign besides being a member of the Commonwealth Games silver medal-winning side the same year.

Rupinder has two Asian Games medals in his kitty -- a gold in 2014 Incheon and bronze in 2018 Jakarta.

But he became one of the scapegoats after the Asian Games disappointment as he was mostly ignored in the overhaul of the team.

In between, injuries too didn't help his cause as a hamstring problem almost ended his career in 2017, a time he once described as the "toughest phase" of his life.

Harmanpreet Singh benefitted the most from Rupinder's six-month long injury lay-off but after his successful return, the two became India's trump cards from short corners and their pairing continued till Tokyo.

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