The Hockey Magician as he is proudly called, Dhyan Chand is indeed the world’s best hockey player. Any conversation pertaining to hockey are incomplete without his mention and his three Olympic golds. We bring to you some lesser known, amazing facts about this magician.
1. Dhyan Chand joined the British Indian army as a mere sepoy at the age of 16 and that’s where he picked up hockey as a professional sport. Following the successful New Zealand tour, Chand was immediately promoted to Lance Naik.
2. Dhyan Chand’s original name was Dhyan Singh. The ‘Chand’ (literally means moon) was given to him by his fellow mates, as his practice sessions at night invariably coincided with the coming out from the moon.
3. 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.
4. His magic undoubtedly transcended borders as well. The residents of Vienna built his statue and brought it to life with four hands and sticks in a bid to capture and pay tribute to his unparalleled ball control and wizardry-like stick work. Only the Austrians know if the statue has still survived.
5. Once, while playing a hockey game, Major Dhyan Chand was not able to score a goal against the opposition team. After several misses, he argued with the match referee regarding the measurement of the goal post, and amazingly, it was found to not be in conformation with the official width of a goal post under international rules).
6. It is on this genius’ birthday, 29 August, National Sports Day is celebrated in India. The President gives away sport-related awards such as the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, Arjuna Award and Dronacharya Award on this day at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, India.
His own younger brother, Roop Singh was another magician of hockey. So much so, that the duo came to be known as the ‘hockey twins’. In fact, Chand along with his brother Roop, scored 25 out of the 35 goals scored by India in the 1932 Olympics.
8. Such was his dexterity with his stick that in Holland, Dhyan Chand’s stick was broken to see if there was a magnet inside; in Japan they thought that it was glue; and Adolf Hitler even offered to buy it!
In the pic below, Dhyan Chand refused to greet Hitler in the Nazi style in Berlin during 1936 Olympics. Such strong display of character speaks volumes about this great hero.
Photo courtesy: Hindu
9. As a sportsman in, he played for the nation’s glory. But we failed the man when he fell ill and died in 1979. When he came to Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences, they sent him to the general ward. A journalist’s article eventually got him moved to a special room.
I don’t think I have the capacity to judge whether he should have received the Bharat Ratna this year but I do realize his contribution to the game and to the nation’s pride. Let’s remember him and inject some love and respect for Indian hockey. Probably the biggest tribute all of us can pay to this gem of a person.