Sohail Abbas retires

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Pakistan's penalty corner expert and world's highest goal scorer Sohail Abbas today announced his retirement from the game.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:04 IST
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Pakistan's penalty corner expert and world's highest goal scorer Sohail Abbas today announced his retirement from international hockey, pulling the curtains down on an illustrious career that started in 1998 with a match against India. Sohail, who scored 274 goals in the 224 matches he played, decided to call it a day after Pakistan beat India 3-2 to win the bronze medal in the Champions Trophy here. Waseem retires Also announcing retirement was Sohail's skipper Waseem Ahmed who was named the man-of-the-match in today's outing at the National Stadium. The double blow is surely going to his Pakistan hockey hard as the duo were arguably the most talented in the current line up, having been picked in a World XI to play against Holland in 1999 as a part of the FIH's 75th anniversary celebrations. While Sohail was looking forward to start a "new chapter" of his life - he is getting married - Waseem is likely to continue playing in the European league. "I have played a lot of hockey and now I want to take some rest. I would have loved to announce my retirement after seeing Pakistan take the gold medal before the home crowd. But anyway, the bronze medal finish is not bad," the 28-year-old Sohail said. "I had already decided to quit before coming to Champions Trophy. So the third place finish is certainly not the reason for my quitting the game," he added. Record holder Sohail, who scored a double hat-trick besides 21 hat-tricks during his career, holds the distinction of scoring highest number of goals in international hockey and the Champions Trophy as well. The player eclipsed Dutchman Paul Litjens' record of 267 goals during the eight-match Test series against India recently. He set the Champions Trophy record during the current tournament when he scored the winner against India in the league stage. "I am starting a new chapter in my life after two weeks so I need time for that also," he said. Waseem, who was recently appointed captain before the Test series against India, said he was vacating his slot for young players but that he would continue playing in the European league. "I have been playing for 13 years now. I think the time has come to say good bye to the game. I need some mental and physical rest," the diminutive mid-fielder told reporters here. "We have some very promising players coming up and keeping an eye on the future, we need to have a young side," said the veteran of over 250 internationals. He also said he would not mind coming back to the fold for the 2006 World Cup if the team needed him. "I may consider if they need me. But I know that's not happen since the young players in the side are doing a great job," he said. Dreams remain Abbas said he achieved a lot during his six-year international career, but his only regret was that he could not help his side win an Olympic title. "This is my biggest regret. My team could not win a gold medal in the Olympics during my playing days. But when I had started my career, playing for Pakistan was my biggest thing," the ace drag-flicker said. Abbas said it was just a co-incidence that he called his day after playing against India, the team against whom he had started his career, scored his world record goal and also made the Champions Trophy record. "It was never in my mind. May be I achieved all my records against them since my parents, people of the country and my well-wishers wanted me to do well against India." Pakistan coach Reolant Oltmans said Abbas was under a lot of pressure since his countrymen always wanted him to deliver whenever he got into the field. "Perssure on him was enormous. Even if he failed once to convert penalty corners, he would be blamed by the entire country. If you treat your players like that, imagine under how much pressure he would be in," Oltmans said. (PTI)

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