Submit :
News                      Photos                     Just In                     Debate Topic                     Latest News                    Articles                    Local News                    Blog Posts                     Pictures                    Reviews                    Recipes                    
Dhyan Chand was a magician, claim former Hockey Olympians
Hockey is a game played with sticks, but when Dhyan Chand played with that simple stick, it was nothing short of magic. The stick looked like a magic wand, capable of doing anything on a hockey field, so much so that once his stick had to be broken and checked whether it had any kind of magnet inside, as the ball and his stick acted like husband and wife, not separating ways.

He was a master exponent of the game, entertaining public to the hilt with his stick work. Such was his skills that one newspaper headline in Germany during 1936 Olympics read, 'The Olympic complex now has a magic show too.' The magic being referred to Dhyan Chand's skills.

Anupam Gulati, one of the most well known Indian hockey commentators and an analyst said, ''Obviously the poster, newspaper stories are true regarding Dhyan Chand and his magic in the 1936 Olympics.'' After the Olympic organisers witnessed Dhyan Chand's splendid display, they even came up with a poster stating that one should go and watch Dhyan Chand the magician in action. The world was witnessing something out of the world. Work came to a standstill, when it came to watching Dhyan Chand, the 'wizard.'

Gulati further says, ''Dhyan Chand was so brilliant that Hitler had come to watch the finals, and Hitler offered him a position in the army, but Dhyan Chand politely refused.'' He was never overawed by the situation. It was this simple character of him, which set him apart from his genius act on the hockey field. Those who played alongside the player knew his behaviour on and off the field, for which also, he was respected. He was someone who rarely lost his cool.

In one such case, the modest hockey legend was removed from captaincy, not because of his performance, but simply - the then Prince took over the captaincy, irrespective of his performance. India was still under British colonial rule during the time. He just wanted to play the game, which mattered to him the most, so he did not make any hue and cry about the captaincy issue, even when everyone knew he was a great leader and a good captain.

It was due to such love of the game that he scored more than 400 goals in his illustrious career. He scored goals for fun. And his goal scoring ability had not only gripped the hockey fraternity, but also athletes from other sports. His goal scoring ability can be summed up in the words of Don Bradman, a cricket legend once said, ''He (Dhyan Chand) scores goals like runs in cricket."

He had complete control over the game. While playing against Germany, Dhyan Chand once lost his tooth after he collided with a German goalie, who was rough and aggressive in his approach. He returned to the field in the same match after treated by his medical team. But, he was in a different mood - to teach the Germans a lesson. What followed was an unbelievable act - the Indian players team took the ball towards the German goal in the game a number of times, did not score but only back pedaled, as this was what Dhyan Chand instructed his players.

Only a handful number of players seems to be alive who played alongside Dhyan Chand at the professional level. 1956 Olympian, Sardar Hardayal Singh is one of the few, who played alongside him in the Indian Army. Hardayal Singh and Dhyan Chand were together in Meerut cantonment. ''He was a very honest person and never said anything about anyone, but only praised one and all,'' said Hardayal.

This can be understood in the manner Dhyan Chand dealt with M.N. Masud's autobiography, where Dhyan Chand was criticised. Masud played alongside Dhyan Chand in the 1936 Olympics. Dhyan Chand, in his biography stated years later that he always respects ''his integrity and opinion,'' irrespective of what Masud had written about him. It could have been so easy for him to attack his team mate with words and create a controversy, but he always kept aloof from such things.

The player had that streak of competitiveness and a strict regime and never favoured any kind of bias attitude. The Indian team had to undergo trials before the team was selected for the 1932 Olympics, but the Indian Hockey authorities were so confident about Dhyan Chand and his game that he was the lone player selected without undergoing trials for the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles. But Dhyan Chand felt that it was not fair as the authorities were being partial, where his team member of the previous Olympics (1928) were logging horns and giving it all to get selected.

Sardar Balbir Singh was also one of those players who played alongside Dhyan Chand, when the legend was in the Indian Army. He travelled with Dhyan Chand for the Lanka tour in early 1940s. Though Balbir is not alive to tell a tale about Dhyan Chand, but he did talk about Dhyan Chand to his son, Harbinder Singh, who is himself an Olympian with 3 medals to his name (1 Gold and 2 Bronze).

''My father always said that he was very humble and a simple person,'' said Harbinder Singh. Throughout his career, he was said to have possesed one of the best skills in the game. He was what Michael Jordan was to Basketball, Sachin Tendulkar to Cricket, Michael Schumacher to Formula One and Roger Federer to Lawn Tennis. They were all magicians in their sport. Harbinder Singh adds, ''My father also said that when Dhyan Chand used to dribble the hockey ball, nobody could even touch the ball or take the ball away from his stick. He was called the magician by many.''

It was for such skills that he was considered to be one of the best players in the world then. Even the players of today feel the same. But, the person Dhyan Chand was, once said to Hardayal Singh, ''Roop Singh is a better player than me.'' Roop Singh was Dhyan Chand's younger brother, who was on the same class as that of Dhyan Chand. In a single match against the US, Roop Singh once scored 10 goals and Dhyan scored 8 goals. So, one can claim hockey was in their blood.

Gulati talked about Dhyan Chand, from what he heard from others and said, ''I have been fortunate to interact with people, who have seen Dhyan Chand play. They said that apart from his dribbling skills and ball control, he was also a very wristy player and could easily manipulate his wrist. He was a nimble footed player. He had the uncanny knack of wrong footing people easily.''

Even after Dhyan Chand retired from the game, he was involved in coaching for some years. Harbinder Singh, son of Sardar Balbir Singh was one of those lucky ones who received coaching from the hockey legend. Harbinder still remembers the words uttered to him by Dhyan Chand, which helped him score many goals at the international level. Harbinder said, ''Sir (Dhyan Chand) always asked me to keep the ball away from me, so that I could take advantage of my pace. This helped me score some fantastic goals against Pakistan, Australia and other teams, which I still consider among some of my best goals.''

After his death in 1979 at the age of 74 years, he is still being talked about as one of the greatest who ever played the sport, which in itself justifies the legacy that he left behind - a legacy, which needs to be told to the future generations. This is the best way we can always keep the hockey legend alive in our hearts.

Email Id
Verification Code
Email me on reply to my comment
Email me when other CJs comment on this article
Sign in to set your preference
merinews for RTI activists

Not finding what you are looking for? Search here.