Few hours after Rupinder Pal Singh called it quits from international hockey, his teammate and also a Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Birendra Lakra announced that he is quitting the game with immediate effect on Thursday. (More Hockey News)
Lakra's retirement was announced by Hockey India on its official Twitter handle. "A solid defender and one of the most influential Indian Men's Hockey Team figures, the Odisha star has announced his retirement from the Indian national team. Happy Retirement, Birendra Lakra," HI tweeted.
In a Facebook post, the Odisha-born Lakra stated 'time has come to move on and allow next-generation players to experience playing for India'. "Over the past few weeks, I have introspected about my journey in hockey. Nothing has given me more joy and pride than to represent my country and wear the India jersey," Lakra continued.
"After 201 caps and 11 years, I have decided to retire from the Indian Hockey team. The thought of not being able to share the dressing room again with some of the most fantastic players is unimaginable at the moment but I wish my teammates the very best as they prepare to take Indian hockey to the next level with just three years left in this Olympic cycle," he said.
The 31-year-old Lakra, a defender, was part of India's bronze medal-winning side in the Tokyo Olympics. He was also part of the 2014 gold medal-winning Incheon Asian Games team and the side that claimed bronze in 2018 Jakarta.
Hours earlier, Lakra's teammate drag-flicker Rupinder, who played a starring role in the historic bronze-winning Tokyo Olympics campaign, announced his surprise international retirement 'to make way for youngsters'.