Legendary Hockey Player
Dhyan Chaand, the legendary Indian hockey player is counted among the greatest sportsmen this country has every seen.
‘Hockey ka Jadugar’
The greatest hockey player the world has known. Known for his great ability to score goals, he was nicknamed ‘Hockey ka Jadugar’.
Internationally, he was called “The Wizard” for his great ability to control the ball. His name was verily synonymous with hockey.
Dhyan Chaand, the Hockey Wizard
Dhyan Singh was born on August 29th, 1905 in Jodhpur.
Practicing under Moon light
He later got the name “Chaand” as he used to practice hockey under moon light, Moon in Hindi is Chaand. We should remember that there were no flood lights in those days.Thus came about his name Dhyan Chaand.
Dhayanchand practicing under moonlight
From Moonlight to Limelight
From being under ‘moon light’, Dhyan Chaand soon came under international limelight.
He displayed his skills against the British Hockey team at the London Folkstone festival, scoring 36 of India’s 72 goals in 10 matches.
1928-Summer Olympics in Amsterdam
In 1928, the Indian Hockey Team participated in the Summer Olympics in Amsterdam, Netherlands. In this tornament, Chaand helped India gain a victory score 3-0, by scoring 2 goals.
Gold Medal of Amsterdam Olympics Dhyanchand in action during the Amsterdam Festival
Wizard of Hockey
Dhyan Chaand’s impeccable control over the ball was such that, people soon started having doubts as to whether he had hidden a magnet in his hockey stick. The ball always seemed to stick to his hockey stick when he was playing. Once, during Indian hockey team’s sojourn to Japan, the Tokyo hockey officials had a similar doubt. They broke open his stick to see whether there was a hidden magnet within. Such was his magic!
Dhyan Chaand scoring a goal
Playing with Walking Stick
In another amusing incident, a lady from the audience asked Chaand to play with her her walking stick. He was able to score goals even with that walking stick.
1932 Olympics in USA
In this Olympics, the Indian hockey team defeated the United States 24-1. Dhyan Chaand scored 8 of these goals and made it a one sided contest.
1933 The most memorable moment
Interestingly, the most memorable moment for Dhyan Chaand according to him was in a match in which he did not score a goal. This was the Beighton Cup final of 1933. The contest was between Calcutta Customs and Jhansi Heroes. In this closely fought match, Dhyan Chand provided a crucial pass for the only goal of the match won by Jhansi Heroes.
Jhansi Team with the Beighton Cup
1935 Tour of New Zealand and Australia
This was another memorable tour for Dhyan Chaand as he scored 201 of the total 584 goals by the Indian team in 43 matches. Needless to say, the Indian team crushed their opponents.
Meeting Don Bradman
During this tour of Australia, Dhyan Chaand met Don Bradman, the legendary Australian cricketer. After seeing Dhyan displaying his skills, Bradman paid his tributes to the Indian hockey magician remarking, “He scores goals just like we score runs in cricket.” That was the consistency and ease with which Dhyan Chaand scored goals.
Don Bradman Dhyan Chaand
1936 Olympics – Hitler impressed
Even the Nazi dictator Adolph Hitler, who was a prejudiced person and a supremacist, was impressed by Dhyan Chaand’s skills. In the 1936 Olympics held in Berlin, Dhyan Chaand led the Indian Hockey Team. In the first round of the final, Indians lead German 1-0. In the second round, the Indian team managed 6 consecutive goals.
Dhyan Chaand displaying his magic during the Berlin Olympics
At this moment, the Germans resorted to body play, trying to win by foul means. Dhyan Chaand was injured as he broke one of his teeth. He however continued to play.
Hitler who was in the audience couldn’t see his team being crushed. He left midway.
Adolph Hitler at Olympics, 1936
During the course of the match, the Germans sensed a foul play at the ease with which Dhyan Chaand was scoring, inspite of his breaking his teeth. He was ordered to change his stick. The magic however continued and Indians won the final 8-1.
Dhayan Chand, the hero of Berlin Olympics
An invitation to become German
The next day Hitler called Dhyan Chaand for a meeting. Hitler offered him German citizenship for his scintillating performance in 1936 Berlin Olympics. He was also offered a senior position in the German military. Dhyan Chaand however refused saying, “India is my India”.
Hitler Dhyan Chaand
After World War
In the subsequent years from 1939, no matches could be played as the World War-2 was on. After the Word War, Dhyan Chaand continued to display his magic. He hit 61 goals in 22 matches against East Africa.
In 1948, Dhyan Chaand retired from the sport. The glory of Dhyan Chaand did not fade. Many statues were erected in his honour. The citizens of Austria erected his statue with four hand and four sticks, displaying his control over the ball.
The astro-turf hockey pitch at the Indian Gynkhana Club in London has been named after Dhyan Chand.
The Dhyan Chaand astro turf hockey pitch, London
In his own country, a statue of his can be found near India Gate, Delhi. Many such statues in honour of Dhyan Chaand can be found all across the country.
Dhyan Chaand Statue, India Gate
Dhyan Chaand Statue, Jhansi Dhyan Chaand Statue, Vishakapatnam
The Indian Government has issued a stamp in his honour in 1980.
Stamp on Dhyan Chaand
Dhyan Chaand’s birthday is also observed as National Sports Day India. The Dhyan Chaand Award has been institued by the government in his memory.
Dhyan Chaand Award
The Gentleman – Good husband
Inspite of his greatness, Dhyan Chaand was simple at heart. An incident with a fan shows his strong roots in Indian culture. In an exibition match that he played at Prague, a lady fan who was impressed at his game, came upto him and requested to allow her to kiss him. Dhyan Chaand politely refused saying, “I am a married man”.
Rush of Pakistani fans at Lahore station
Sometime after 1947, Dhyan Chaand was in Lahore railway station as part of the Indian on their way to Peshawar, to travel from thereon to take part in Joshan celebrations, Afghanistan. Hundreds of Pakistani fans rushed to have a glimpse of Dhyan Chaand. There was much rush at all stations as many trains arrived late by 4 hours at Peshawar.
A forgotten hero
It is sad that we have forgotten such a hero. A fitting way to remember and honour him would be confer Bharat Ratna on him. That will an apt tribute to this great sportsman.