Sir Don Bradman once said praising Dhyan Chand, “You score goals like runs. ”
Adolf Hitler was so impressed that he offered this man a rank of Colonel in German army along with the citizenship, which he politely refused. This is the story of the greatest sports legend India has ever produced, Major Dhyan Chand. Born in Allahabad, Major Dhyan Chand’s hockey genes came from his father. His father, Sameshwar Dutt, played hockey with the British army. Dhyan’s younger brother Roop Singh was himself a great hockey player. Roop was twice a part of the Indian team which won Olympic golds. Since Dhyan’s father was in the army, his family travelled across all parts of the country before settling in Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh.
Dhyan Chand – The legend in the making
Dhyan Chand played hockey for the first time when he joined the Indian Army as a Sepoy in 1921 at the age of 16. Before that as a young boy, he used to love wrestling. Originally his name was Dhyan Singh, but due to his habit of practicing a lot in moon light, his hockey friends added “Chand”(Moon in Hindi) to his name.
When he was 17, he started playing army hockey tournaments and regimental games.This went on till 1926. Soon, he was selected in the Indian Army hockey team which was touring New Zealand. The team won 18 out of 21 matches with his magic. After returning to India, he quickly got promoted to Lance Naik’s post.
The tale which unfolded thereafter is epic. He helped India to win 3 Olympic gold medals in 1928, 1932 and 1936. In 1928, he became the leading goal scorer with 14 goals. The news report read “This is not a game of Hockey but magic”. His brother Roop Singh was a great player too. He along with Dhyan Chand scored a total of 25 goals in 1932 Olympics. In 1936 Olympic final, he made Germans look like sitting ducks with his stick magic. He scored 6 goals in that final match which India won by 8-1. And, he scored 3 of them barefoot after putting off his spikes mid-game. Adolf Hitler became his fan after this match.
Stories of the legend Dhyan Chand
- His mastery in Hockey was such that once when he was not able to score a goal in a match. He argued with the referee for the measurement of goal post. No surprises, the goal post was indeed smaller than the permitted minimum limit
- Officials and players used to be so amazed by his game that once his hockey stick was broken to find out if there is a magnet inside
- Every year, 29 August is celebrated as sports day because it’s Dhyan Chand’s birthday. President gives prestigious awards in sports on this day like Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, Arjuna and Dronacharya awards.
Dhyan Chand scored a total of 400 international goals and in 1956, he was honored with Padma Bhushan.
Dhyan Chand has an award on his name.The award is given for lifetime achievement in the field of games and sports. His outstanding legacy in the sports world has fetched him fans from all over the world and if you were not his fan before, we are sure you are now.
Interesting Facts about Dhyan Chand you should know
- Major Dhyan Chand’s real name was Dhyan Singh. His first coach, Pankaj Gupta, conferred the title ‘Chand’ upon him in a bid to compare his praiseworthy skillfulness in playing hockey with the shining moon.
- Major Dhyan Chand is also known as the ‘wizard of hockey’.
- In his early days, Dhyan Chand had no interest in playing hockey; he loved wrestling instead.
- He did not wear shoes in the final match of the Berlin Olympics to increase his speed. India won the match 8-1.
- In his career, Major Dhyan Chand scored over 1000 goals.
- He is the only hockey player so far to have been awarded the Padma Bhushan.
- His birthday is celebrated as the Indian Sports Day.
- Dhyan Chand’s father was Sameshwar Dutt Singh.
- His father was a soldier in the British army and a hockey player in the army.
- He had two brothers-Mool Singh, Roop Singh. Roop Singh was also a great hockey player. Dhyan chand’s son Ashok dhyan chand was also a hockey player.
- He studied in the school for only six years due to his fathers transfer from one place to another. In his childhood he was not so much fond of sports.
- He joined army only at an age of 16. He was able to do this for his impressive skill in hockey.
- In the beginning, he played only in the army hockey tournaments. In 1926, he was selected for New Zealand tour as a player of Indian team. They won 18 matches among the 21 matches they played ,lost 1 and 2 were drew. His performance was tremendous in the tournament.
- He played three times for the Indian hockey team in the Olympics- Amsterdam (1928), Los Angels (1932), Berlin ( 1936). In all the tournaments India won. In the Olympic game of 1932, India won the final match defeating USA by 23-1. It was world record for a long time.
- Among this 23 goals, dhyan chand’s goals were 8. In the final match of Berlin Olympic, dhyan chand played half of the match barefooted to increase his speed. India won the match by 8-1.
- Dhyan chand was retired from the hockey in 1948. In his career, he had scored more than 1000 goals.
- In 1956, he was awarded padma bhushan. His birthday is celebrated as Indian sports day.
- Dhyan chand died on 3 December, 1979. It is very unfortunate that these legendary player was ignored by the nation in his last days. When he was suffering from lung cancer, he was send to general ward of AIMS.
It would be unfair to say that his legacy was not maintained. There were many others after him who were inspired to achieve for India. Explore other tales of Indian sports.