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Magician of Hockey, Know His Name

Major Dhyan Chand, born on August 29, 1905, in Allahabad, India, also called as “magician of hockey” was a legendary Indian field hockey player and is widely regarded as one of the greatest hockey players in history. He is celebrated for his exceptional ball control, goal-scoring prowess and remarkable contribution to Indian and International field hockey.

The “Magician of Hockey” is a nickname given to Major Dhyan Chand, a legendary Indian field hockey player who is widely regarded as one of the greatest hockey players of all time. He was known for his extraordinary ball control and goal-scoring feats, in addition to earning three Olympic gold medals, in 1928, 1932 and 1936, during an era where India dominated field hockey. Dhyan Chand’s legacy continues to inspire hockey players around the world. He is a true legend of the sport, and his name will forever be synonymous with excellence.

Early Life

Birth date: 29th August, 1905

Birth place: Allahabad, India

Major Dhyan Chand, born on 29th August, 1905, hailed from a Rajput family. His father, Sameshwar Singh, served in the British Indian Army and Dhyan Chand’s exposure to hockey began through him. The family’s frequent relocations due to father’s transfers led to Dhyan Chand discontinuing his education after six years of schooling. Settling in Jhansi, he joined the Army. Despite not initially having a strong inclination towards sports, he went on to become a hockey legend, earning numerous honors and playing a key role in India’s Olympic success.

Military Career of Major Dhyan Chand

  • Enlistment and Early Years (1922-1926): Major Dhyan Chand enlisted in the 1st Brahmans of the British Indian Army and started his career in army hockey tournaments and regimental games.
  • New Zealand Tour (1926): Major Dhyan Chand was selected for the Indian Army team that toured New Zealand. The team’s impressive performance garnered praise from spectators and set the stage for his future success.
  • Rise to Prominence (1927): Following the New Zealand tour, Chand was promoted to Lance Naik in 1927 and began making waves in the hockey world.

Campaign for Olympic Hockey (1928)

Dhyan Chand’s influence on the spot expanded beyond the playing field as he played a pivotal role in advocating for the reintroduction of field hockey in the Olympics. This effort led to the formation of the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF), which set its sights on the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics. Dhyan Chand’s prowess was showcased during the Inter-Provincial Tournament in 1925, where he played for the United Provinces team. His exceptional stick-work and skilful play caught the attention of selectors, earning him a place in the Olympic team.

Amsterdam Olympics 1928’s Achievement

The 1928 Amsterdam Summer Olympics marked a historic milestone in Dhyan Chand’s career. Representing India, the team was placed in Division A alongside Austria, Belgium, Denmark and Switzerland. Chand’s remarkable performance, which included scoring of astounding 14 goals in just 5 matches, played a pivotal role in India’s dominance. The tournament culminated in a final match against the Netherlands, where India emerged victorious with a score of 3-0. Dhyan Chand’s contribution to this achievement earned him the admiration of spectators and the title of the “magician of hockey.”

Continued Success and Captaincy of Dhyan Chand

Dhyan Chand’s legacy of excellence continued to flourish. In the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, he was instrumental in leading the Indian team to victory, with an impressive final score of 24-1 against the USA. His leadership qualities were further evident during the 1936 Berlin Olympics, where he captained the Indian team. The final against Germany ended with India securing yet another gold medal with an 8-1 victory. Dhyan Chand’s contributions on and off the field solidified his reputation as a hockey icon.

East African Tour and Retirement

In 1947, Dhyan Chand led an army hockey team on a tour of East Africa, leaving a lasting impact and continuing to spread his love for hockey. Following a distinguished career, he retired from the Indian Army in 1956 after 34 years of service. His remarkable achievements were recognized when he was bestowed with the Padma Bhushan, a prestigious civilian award in India.

Honors presented to Major Dhyan Chand

The honors presented to the “magician of hockey”, Major Dhyan Chand are as follows:

  • Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Arwad: Sports Ministry of India presented this award on an annual basis to India’s best performer on International level championships.
  • Dhyan Chand Award: A lifeline achievement award named after Dhyan Chand.

Legacy and Impact

Major Dhyan Chand’s legacy far beyond his playing years. His legacy as an icon of sportsmanship, skill and dedication has left an indelible mark on Indian hockey and the world of sports. He continued to contribute the sport by teaching at coaching camps and serving as the Chief Hockey Coach at the National Institute of Sports. On 3rd December 1979, Dhyan Chand passed away due to liver cancer.  His birthday, 29th August, is celebrated as National Sports Day in India, fitting tribute to his contributions. His unwavering dedication earned him the title “Hockey ka Jadugar” (Magician of Hockey).

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