Major Dhyan Chand – The God of Hockey
Major Dhyan Chand was an iconic Indian hockey player who is remembered as a magician of Indian hockey. Major Dhyan Chand is a name that every Indian can say with pride. He was the prime member of Indian hockey team which brought three Olympic gold medals in field hockey. He had great control over dribbling the ball that no one could ever match. He was honored with Padma Bhushan by the governament of india in 1956 for his outstanding contribution to Indian hockey. Major Dhyan Chand’s birthday, August 29, is celebrated as National Sports Day in India. Major sports awards like Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, Arjuna, Dronacharya awards are presented on this occasion to the sportsperson who has shown tremendous commitment towards the game and made the country proud. Dhyan Chand has scored more than 400 goals during his international career which was ended in 1948.
Dhyan Chand was often called as ‘The Wizard’ by the legends for his magical control over the ball. In Berlin, Adolf Hitler wanted to buy his stick after watching the final match against Germany. Dhyan Chand mesmerized the Japanese by playing with a walking stick when a woman in the stands asked him to play with it. In some places, opposition team players went on to the extent to break his stick to check whether there was any special thing inside the stick as the ball always tends to kiss his stick. Overall, he scored 1000 goals in a career spanning over two decades. During his era there was nothing to record the brilliant play of this magician. If it had recorded, it could have used by this generation as a tutorial lesson. Such was the sheer intelligence he had.
Dhyan Chand learned to play hockey while he was in the Indian army which he joined at the age of 16. He used to practice during night times and he had to do it under moon light as there were no flood lights at that time. He was selected to play for the Indian hockey team on the tour of New Zealand in 1926 after playing for 4 years at domestic level.
Indian hockey team made its Olympic debut in 1928 Amsterdam Olympics and went on to won the country’s first ever Olympic gold medal. Major Dhyan Chand was the top scorer of the tournament with 14 goals in just 5 matches with his brilliant piece of game plan. The team received a grand welcome from the authorities and fans. Indian team went on to win the next edition of Olympics also which was held in Los Angeles in 1932. India defeated the host, USA with a margin of 24-1 in the final match, which was a world record at that time. After that Indian hockey team had tours to Europe only to be victorious at each place that they had landed. For the next season of Olympics, Major became captain. This time games were held in Berlin in 1936. The result was same in Berlin too as India clinched the gold medal again. Dhyan Chand scored six goals in the final match against Germany in which India had won with a margin of 8-1. At that time, Indian hockey team was a dominant force in international arena.
Career in Army
During this period his rank showed tremendous improvement in less time as he was the super star of Indian hockey team. He was promoted to Lieutenant rank in 1937. In 1951, he was honored by the Indian National hockey by naming a hockey tournament after him as Dhyan Chand tournament. He retired from Indian army in 1956 at the age of 51. He was with the rank of ‘Major’ at the time of retirement. He had held coaching camps in Rajasthan after his retirement and later appointed as chief coach at National Institute of Patiala.
Though having great legacy he died on 3rd December, 1979 in AIIMS, Delhi in a general ward, which is a tough fact to digest. In final days, Dhyan Chand felt sad as he was short of money and was badly ignored by the nation.Two months before he died, Dhyan Chand made a statement that shows his state of mind, “When I die, the world will cry, but India’s people will not shed a tear for me, I know them.” His autobiography “Goal” was published by Sport & Pastime, Chennai in 1952. His son, Ashok Kumar Singh was a member of indian hockey team which won the 1975 World Championship.