Hours after Sachin Tendulkar retired from his cricketing career, the Indian government conferred him with the Bharat Ratna – the country’s highest civilian award. But why one of the biggest stars of Indian sports, legendary hockey player Dhyan Chand was ignored after decades of pleas, prayers and requests to the Indian Government by sports lovers? This is the question which most Indians are trying to seek an answer for.
So, who was Dhyan Chand?
Dhyan Chand (29 August 1905 – 3 December 1979) was an Indian field hockey player, who is widely considered as the greatest field hockey player of All Time. Chand is most remembered for his extraordinary goal-scoring feats, in addition to earning three Olympic gold medals (1928, 1932, and 1936) in field hockey, during an era where India was the most dominant team in Hockey.
Here are some interesting facts that every Indian should know about Dhyan Chand:
1. Known as “The Wizard” for his superb ball control, Chand played his final international match in 1948, having scored more than 400 goals during his international career.
2. Chand joined the Indian Army at the age of 16
3. On 17 May 1928 Amsterdam Summer Olympics, the Indian national hockey team made its Olympic debut against Austria, winning 6-0, with Chand scoring 3 goals.
4. The final match took place on 26 May, with India facing the home team of the Netherlands. India managed to defeat the hosts 3-0 and the Indian team won its country’s first Olympic gold medal. Chand was the top scorer of the tournament by a large margin, scoring 14 goals in 5 matches. A newspaper report about India’s triumph said, “This is not a game of hockey, but magic. Dhyan Chand is in fact the magician of hockey”.
5. After India played its first match in the 1936 Olympics, Dhyan Chand’s magical stickwork drew crowds from other venues to the hockey field. A German newspaper carried a banner headline: ‘The Olympic complex now has a magic show too.’ The next day, there were posters all over Berlin: Visit the hockey stadium to watch the Indian magician Dhyan Chand in action
6. Chand help India earn three Olympic gold medals (1928, 1932, and 1936) in field hockey, during this era India was the most dominant Hockey team in the world.
7. Legend has it that the Fuhrer was so impressed by Dhyan Chand’s wizardry with the stick that he offered the Indian a chance to move to Germany and the post of Colonel in his army, which the Indian is said to have declined with a smile.
8. During a match with Germany in the 1936 Olympics, Dhyan Chand lost a tooth in a collision with the particularly aggressive Germany goalkeeper Tito Warnholtz. Returning to the field after medical attention, Dhyan Chand reportedly told the players to “teach a lesson” to the Germans by not scoring. The Indians repeatedly took the ball to the German circle only to backpedal.
9. Cricket world’s legend Don Bradman and Hockey’s greatest player Dhyan Chand once came face to face at Adelaide in 1935, when the Indian hockey team was in Australia. After watching Dhyan Chand in action, Don Bradman remarked “He scores goals like runs in cricket”
10. Residents of Vienna, Austria, honoured him by setting up a statue of him with four hands and four sticks, depicting his control and mastery over the ball.
11. A tube station has been named after him in London, along with 358 other past and present Olympic heroes, in the run-up to the Games, starting on 27 July 2012. The Transport for London has brought out a special ‘Olympic Legends Map’, detailing all 361 tube stations. Only six stops have been named after hockey players, with the three Indians – Dhyan Chand, Roop Singh and Leslie Claudius – cornering the majority.
12. In the Netherlands, the authorities broke his hockey stick to check if there was a magnet inside.
13. The last days of Dhyan Chand were not very happy, as he was short of money and was badly ignored by the nation. Once he went to a tournament in Ahmedabad and they turned him away not knowing who he was. He developed liver cancer, and was sent to a general ward at the AIIMS, New Delhi.
The credit is long due, give the man what he deserves (Bharat Ratna). Please share if you are a true Indian.