Every sportsperson has a shelf life and former India hockey captain Sandeep Singh, who by his own admission knows that age is not on his side for a national comeback, is now eager to take up the mentor's role for youngsters wanting to master the art of drag-flicking.
Sandeep, regarded as one of the world's most dangerous drag-flickers in his hey days, has given many a golden moments to Indian hockey but the lanky defender, who has overcome quite a few adversities in life, has been out of the national team since 2014.
A fighter to the core, Sandeep did not give up and continued his hard work on the turf, plying his trade in Australian and European leagues as well as the Hockey India League to prove his mettle but eventually, a back injury last year during HIL dashed all his hopes.
"My dad always tells me 'jo suraj subah ko ugta hai wo sham ko asth hota hai' (the sun which rises in the morning is bound to set in the evening). I too had my time and I tried to be as stable as possible to sustain for a longer period. I have played enough hockey and now I just want to give something back to the game for which I am here today," Sandeep told PTI in an interview.
"I have specific plans, I have a lot of ideas, desi ideas which I want to implement in coaching. I want to work with Indian drag-flickers at the grass-root level and train them.
Skill wise and going by conversion rate I am still the No.1 drag-flicker in India.
"On and off I am taking coaching lessons in Australia. I have plenty of ideas which I want to implement and share with youngsters. I can assure that if given a chance, I can improve 5 to 20 per cent in every drag-flicker in each session. But I don't how and whom to approach in Hockey India," he said.
From being hit by a stray bullet during a train journey while on his way to join the national team for the 2006 World Cup in Germany to making a successful comeback to the field after two years of recovery and then going on to become one of the most dreaded drag-flickers in the world, Sandeep, who represented India in 2012 Olympics, has seen it all.
"Even though I still desire to play for the country one last time but deep down, I know my international career is over. It is very difficult to get into the national team again. Age is not in my hand," he said.
Sandeep, however, feels just like cricket every hockey player of international repute should be given a fitting farewell from the game.
"I know hockey is not as popular as cricket in India but I hope in future, every renowned hockey player should be given a fitting farewell rather than ignoring them," he said.
Sandeep is not playing in the ongoing HIL for reasons, which he refused to divulge, but is eager to make a mark in the lucrative league next season by honing his skills in Australia and England.
"I won't like to disclose the reasons behind why I am not playing in the current HIL but I will play in Australia for St George Randwick Hockey Club in March and then for Harvard Hockey Club in England in September and hope to make comeback in the league next year," said Sandeep, who played for Ranchi Rays in last HIL.
Sandeep is also excited about a biopic on his life which is scheduled for release next year.
"The biopic is being produced by actress Chitrangada Singh. It will hit the theatres next year. It's in advanced stages now and the casting will be done soon," he said.