Dhyan Chand is widely considered to beÃ‚Â the best hockey player of all time. His goal scoring ability was phenomenal and the opposition defenders were oftenÃ‚Â made to look like sitting ducks in front of this wizard from India.Ã‚Â Chand played a pivotal role in India winning three consecutive Olympic gold medals in 1928, 1932 and 1936. His birthday is celebrated as the National Sports Day in India and the President gives away awards such as Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, Arjuna and Dronacharya awards on this day.
He was born on the 29th of August 1905 at Prayag (Allahabad), Uttar Pradesh to a Bais Rajput family. His father served the British Indian Army as a Subedar, and played the game of Hockey. Initially known as Dhyan Singh, he had 2 brothers named Mool Singh and Roop Singh, the latter one too being an accomplished Hockey player. Dhyan could not resume his studies after 6th standard as his family used to move from one place to another, before finally settling down permanently at Jhansi.
Chand joined the Indian Army at the age of 16 and took up hockey while he was still enrolled. Since Dhyan Singh used to practice a lot duringÃ‚Â the night,Ã‚Â he was given the nicknameÃ‚Â “Chand”Ã‚Â by his fellow players;Ã‚Â his practice sessions at night invariably coincided with the coming out ofÃ‚Â the moon. Ã¢â‚¬ËœChandÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Ã‚Â means moon in Hindi. Dhyan Chand was the leading goal-scorer at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics with 14 goals. A news report about IndiaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s victory saidÃ‚Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“This is not a game of hockey, but magic. Dhyan Chand is, in fact, the magician of hockey.Ã¢â‚¬Â
In the 1932 Summer Olympics, India beat USA 24-1 and Japan 11-1. Dhyan Chand scored 12 goalsÃ‚Â whileÃ‚Â his brother Roop Singh nettedÃ‚Â 13 out of the 35 goals India scored. This led to them being dubbed the ‘hockey twins’. Once, when Dhyan Chand was unable to score inÃ‚Â a match,Ã‚Â he argued with the match referee aboutÃ‚Â the measurement of the goal post. To everybodyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s amazement, he was right; the goal postÃ‚Â was found to be in contravention ofÃ‚Â the official minimum width prescribedÃ‚Â under international rules.
The victorious team then proceeded on a tour of the USA, England, Germany, Holland and Hungary and played another match against them which they won again. By the end of the tour, India had played 37 matches out of which it won 34 matches, 2 matches were drawn and one was abandoned. Out of the 338 goals India had scored, Chand scored 133 of them.
In December 1934 the IHF decided to send a team to New Zealand. Chand and his brother Roop Singh were selected in this team. India played 48 matches, 28 in New Zealand and the rest in Ceylon and Australia. India won all the matches, Chand played in 43 matches and scored 201 goals.
Once again after returning to India, Dhyan Chand resumed his duty with the army. In December 1935, the IHC again held an Inter-Provincial Tournament to select players for the Olympics team. Dhyan ChandÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s platoon again refused to let him go and once again he was selected in the hockey team without any formalities. Dhyan Chand and the Indian team went on to win the Berlin Olympics in 1936 where he was honoured with the Olive Crown. Later in November 1947, Dhyan Chand was a part of IndiaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s tour to East Africa where they won all the matches.
After returning from East Africa, Dhyan Chand reduced his involvement with serious hockey and only played a few matches. At the age of 51, in 1956 Dhyan Chand retired from the army as a Major. Following his retirement, Dhyan Chand coached hockey players in Mount Abu. Post his retirement; Dhyan Chand also held the position of Chief Hockey Coach at the National Institute of Sports in Patiala for many years.
The last days of Dhyan Chand were not very happy, as he was short of money and was badly ignored by the nation. He developed liver cancer, and was sent to a general ward at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi. He died on the 3rd of December 1979. Even after his death, Dhyan Chand remains a legend in the field of hockey.
His last words were-
Ã¢â‚¬Å“When I die, the world will cry.. But IndiaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s people will not shed a tear for me.. I know them.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Awards & Achievements
For his extra-ordinary services to the nation, the Government of India celebrates Dhyan ChandÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s birthday (29th of August) as National Sports Day. The Indian Postal Service issued a postage stamp in his memory, and the Dhyan Chand National Stadium at New Delhi has been named after him. He was honoured by the Padma Bhushan award by the Government of India in the year 1956.