Indian Hockey: SV Sunil retires - A look at his titles and achievements
SV Sunil followed his former teammates Rupinder Pal Singh and Birendra Lakra into retirement. The forward, who donned 264 India caps and scored 72 goals, ended his career on a bittersweet note.
Though he was an integral part of the team for more than a decade, Sunil was dropped ahead of Tokyo 2020, thus missing out on a chance of winning a historic medal for Indian hockey. The Indian men’s hockey team won a bronze in Tokyo, which was India’s first Olympic medal in hockey in 41 years.
“It wasn't the easiest decision to make, but it wasn't the toughest either, given that I didn't make it to the team for the Tokyo Games,” Sunil said in a statement.
“The omission put a question mark on my future as a player in the 11-a-side format. With the 2024 Paris Olympics three years away, I think, as a senior player it is important that I make way for youngsters and help in building a winning team for the future.”
Sunil added he was still availabe to play in shorter formats of the sport.
As the 32-year-old brings down curtains on his career, we take a look at his best moments on a hockey field:
Titles and achievements
The slight, speedy forward, inspired by Indian legend Dhanraj Pillay, made his India debut at the 2007 Asia Cup in Chennai.
His first big title came at the 2011 Asian Champions Trophy, when he was part of the team that won the gold medal in Ordos City. But Sunil announced himself on the big stage as he helped India beat Pakistan during the 2012 Sultan Azlan Shah Trophy. Sunil scored the winner with only a minute on the clock (69’) to edge out the arch-rivals 2-1.
Sunil was also part of the Indian team that won a silver medals at the 2012 Asian Champions Trophy in Doha, 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, 2016 Champions Trophy in London , 2018 Champions Trophy in Breda, and a bronze at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta.
But according to the man himself, his most memorable moment came at the 2014 Asian Games, where India won gold to qualify for Rio 2016.
The Indian hockey team was struggling for confidence at the time, and had endured one of their most disappointing performances at London 2012. India failed to win a single match at the Olympic Games in London and finished 12th of 12 teams.
At the Asian Games in 2014, the tide turned. India started with two morale-boosting wins over minnows Sri Lanka (8-0) and Oman (7-0). Even though they narrowly lost to Pakistan 1-2 in the group stage, they qualified for the knockout stage and made it to the finals.
It was India v Pakistan in the final, possibly the most crucial match-up for players from both countries. The two rivals put on a splendid show and were locked 1-1 after full-time. India defeated Pakistan 4-2 on penalties to win their third gold medal in the tournament.
“I think that tournament would be at the top of my favourites list for the team. That final against Pakistan is the most memorable night for me, personally,” Sunil told Olympics.com.
Sunil received an Arjuna award for his contribution to Indian hockey in 2017.