Former India hockey captain Sardar Singh has announced his retirement from international hockey following exclusion from a 25-member core group named by Hockey India for national camp, starting September 16.

The veteran of over 300 international matches for the Men in Blue has said he believes it's time for the next generation to take over despite being "fit to play good hockey for at least a couple more years", according to Hindustan Times.

The 32-year-old Haryana player, who made his international senior debut way back in 2006, last played for India at the Asian Games in Jakarta where the Harendra Singh-coached side failed to defend their title.

"I have played almost 12 years for the country and it's a long time. Now it's the time for the next generation to take over the baton," Sardar said.

Sardar was left out of the Commonwealth Games squad by former coach Sjoerd Marijne but he was handed a recall by Harendra, who trusted the seasoned campaigner's defensive abilities.

He played the Champions Trophy in Breda earlier this year and was part of the silver medal-winning Indian unit.

Hockey will always remain important to me: Sardar

India hockey captain Sardar Singh
File photo of Indian hockey team captain Sardar Singh.Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Sardar, who still is among the fittest players at the international level, added he will continue to represent Haryana Police in the domestic circuit.

The two-time Olympian also added that he was able to convince the Hockey India and coach Harendra about his decision.

"I am fit to play good hockey for at least a couple of more years. But there is always a time to plan what is next for you. And I personally feel this is the best time to start thinking about new ventures," one of the most influential hockey captains the country had ever had said.

"I have discussed my future with Hockey India and national coach Harendra Singh and they are convinced about my decision.

"Hockey is an integral part of my life and will always remain important for me.

"The only thing is that now you will see me in a different role. I will continue representing my department Haryana Police and state in the domestic circuit."

Having come to know that he is not in the scheme of things for the Asian Champions Trophy, starting October 18 and the World Cup later in the year, Sardar, it seems, has made a timely decision.

Sardar was the youngest player to captain the national team when he was handed the responsibility in 2008. He continued leading the team till 2016, after which goalkeeper PR Sreejesh took over. 

The influential former captain was honoured with an Arjuna Award in 2012 and a Padma Shri in 2015.