New Delhi: He could never earn a decent living despite holding the Guinness Book of World Records for having won maximum number of Olympic medals in field hockey, but that hardly bothers Lezlie Claudius for whom national duty always took precedence over material things.

At a time when the World Series Hockey is offering huge money, Claudius said players should concentrate on qualifying for the Olympics rather than thinking about the league, which collides with the national camp for next year's Olympic qualifiers.

"I am unlucky to be born in that era where there was no money in any sports be it hockey or cricket, but I have no regrets. Now-a-days, the condition of players are much better and I am happy for them," he said.

"Country comes first always. Players should forget about the IHF-Hockey India row and World Series Hockey and concentrate on qualifiers," Claudius said.

The national camp for the Olympic qualifiers starts on Sunday in Bangalore and the WSH is scheduled to begin on December 17 and continue till January 22 next year.

Claudius, who was part of the Indian team that won gold in London (1948), Helsinki (1952) and Melbourne (1956) Olympics and also a silver in Rome (1960), was of the view that playing in the WSH prior to qualifiers will hamper India's preparation.

"Players may face burn out and injury issues. If they are concentrating on money, how will they get motivation to play for the country. Definitely, it is going to affect us in the qualifiers," he said.

"We must not take qualifiers lightly since we are loosing against teams like Belgium."

"What kind of madness is this. What are we going to get from this league? he questioned.

(Agencies)