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Dhyan Chand

Major Dhyan Chand Singh (August 29, 1905December 3, 1979) was a former Indian hockey player. He was part of the Gold winning Indian team in three Olympic Games (1928 Amsterdam, 1932 Los Angeles, 1936 Berlin). He was awarded the Padma Bhushan, India's third highest civilian honour, in 1956. He got the title Chand or Moon from his first coach, Pankaj Gupta, who had predicted that he would one day shine like a Chand or Moon. Even today Dhyan Chand is the only Indian sports person who can lay claim to be the unchallenged master of a sport.

Early life

Dhyan Singh was born on August 29, 1905 to a Bais Rajput, family in Prayag in Uttar Pradesh. His father Sameshwar Dutt Singh was an Indian Army subedar who had played hockey in the army. Singh had two brothers - Mool Singh, later a hawaldar in the army, and Roop Singh (September 8, 1910December 16, 1977), who himself was as legendary a hockey player as Dhyan. The family kept moving to different cities because of his father's tranfers in the army. Because of this, Singh could not study much and had to terminate his education after sixth class. The family finally settled in Jhansi. Being in the military, Singh's father got a small piece of land in Jhansi for a house.

Young Dhyan had no serious inclination towards sports, though he loved wrestling. His hockey career had humble beginnings. Singh and other youngsters used to cut a branch of a date palm tree and remove the leaves. With a curve at its end, this branch would become an improvised hockey stick. From old rags they would make a ball. He started playing hockey often and soon, people began noting his skill at the game. A famous, if somewhat apocryphal incident occurred when Singh was 14. He went with his father to an army hockey match. One of the teams was down by two goals. Singh repeatedly told his father that if given a chance, he could make the losing team win. Finally an army officer allowed him to play. He went and scored 4 goals. The impressed officer inducted him into the Children's Platoon.

Singh joined the Indian Army at the age of 16, in 1922 as a Sepoy of the 4/1st Punjab Regiment. Subedar-Major Bhole Tiwari of the Brahmin regiment noticed his dribbling skills. A keen enthusiast of the game and a good player himself, Tiwari recognised the talent in Singh. He became Singh's mentor and laid the foundations of his game. Tiwari made one thing clear to Singh - although he had amazing dribbling skills, hockey was a team game and he could not hang on to the ball for too long. He played hockey for hours at a stretch as that was the only outdoor game his regiment played.

The British officers also encouraged Singh. Singh assimilated all the suggestions and strategies that he received from others, and supplemented them with his own unique style. This led Pankaj Gupta, his first coach, to predict that he would one day shine like the Chand, the Moon. Dhyan Singh became known as Dhyan Chand.

The Making of the Legend

It was the final of the Punjab Indian Infantry tournament in Jhelum. His side was losing the match by two goals. With only four minutes to go, his commanding officer called out, 'Aage bado jawan, kuch toh karo Dhyan' [Go forward soldier! Do something about it Dhyan!]" Dhyan Chand did something about it. He scored three goals in four minutes to lead his team to victory.

The UP team was leading by three goals to one, and there was only a minute left for play. Hopeless as the situation looked, Punjab never gave up trying, and scored a goal to reduce the arrears to one. The spectators applauded the goal, but only half-heartedly, as if paying tribute to a plucky side who they thought were fighting in vain. Indeed, there did not seem to be time for another goal. But Feroze Khan, the Punjab centre-forward, shot away for the UP goal straight from the bully-off, went through the opposing defence and had the ball in the net before anyone quite realized what was happening.

The outstanding forward on the field was Dhyan Chand, the UP centre-forward, who is likely to be chosen for the Indian team that is to visit England and play in the Olympic Games in Amsterdam. Dhyan Chand, in addition to his brilliant stickwork, was the main spring of his side's attack. The opposing centre-half, Eric Pinniger, was unable to hold Dhyan Chand in check, though he was very efficient when tackling the other attackers.The crowd had been waiting for Dhyan Chand to get going, and presently they were rewarded. There came the period when Dhyan Chand demonstrated that as a centre-forward he has few equals. His dribbling was of the irresistible variety. He seemed to be able to pass opponent after opponent at will.' Dhyan Chand took the ball on his stick and dribbled through the entire defence to score a goal. He scored the second, and then the third in a four-minute span to snatch a dramatic last minute victory.

It was after this match that Dhyan Chand earned the nickname "Hockey Wizard". The legend of Dhyan Chand and his unbelievable feats on the hockey field had begun.

The Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) was formed in Gwalior in 1925. By then, the International Hockey Federation had also been formed. Both the federations were doing their best to gain Olympic recognition for their sport.

After successfully lobbying for hockey to be included in the Olympics, the IHF made preparations to field its best possible team. In 1925, an Inter-Provincial tournament was held. The selection of the Indian team was to be based on the performance of the players in this tournament.

Five teams participated in this inaugural nationals - United Provinces (UP), Punjab, Bengal, Rajputana and Central Provinces. Dhyan Chand got selected to play for the United Provinces team. Dhyan Chand was playing with civilians for the first time in his life. Today it seems odd that it took him so long to play against civilians, but that was the way hockey was organised and played in those days.

Dhyan Chand practised with his new team members and keyed himself up for the big matches. In the first game against Punjab, on February 14, Dhyan Chand's team drew its match 3-3. This was his first civilian match. Dhyan Chand shone in this match with his passes and dribbling.

After being down by two goals, Punjab drew in the last minute of the game. When the teams played again, Punjab's defenders kept an anxious eye on Dhyan Chand. It was as if Dhyan Chand was the only forward! His team won 3-1.

In the final against Rajputana, Dhyan Chand revealed his class. Dhyan Chand scored one goal with a powerful hit that went into the net after touching a defender's stick. He also scored the next goal. His stickwork, combination with other forwards, and ability to break into rival defenses was a prime factor in UP's victory in the inaugural nationals.

After the tournament ended, there was a meeting between the players and the IHF to discuss the event. Dhyan Chand felt that it was a good idea because it would reduce the communication gap between players and officials, like there exists one in Indian hockey today.

In 1932, India scored 338 goals in 37 matches, 133 being Dhyan Chand's contribution. In 1947, he accompanied a young team to East Africa. Then 42 and semi-retired, he ended up the second highest scorer with 61 goals in 22 games. 'Dhyan Chand treated everybody as pieces on a board meant for his use. He'd know from his own movement how the defense was forming, and where the gaps were. In other words, he was the only imponderable, everybody else (opposition included) fell in predictable patterns around him.'

After India played its first match in the 1936 Olympics, Dhyan Chand's magical stickwork drew crowds from other venues to the hockey field.

A German newspaper carried a banner headline: 'The Olympic complex now has a magic show too.' The next day, there were posters all over Berlin: 'Visit the hockey stadium to watch the Indian magician Dhyan Chand in action.'

After every India match, hundreds of spectators would troop down to the players enclosure and touch Dhyan Chand's hockey stick to see what trick it was that kept the ball from leaving his stick as he dribbled his way all over the field. One journalist reported: 'It looks like he has some invisible magnet stuck to his hockey stick so that the ball does not leave it at all.'

Dhyan Chand was the unanimous choice to lead India on a tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1935. India played 48 matches -- including three Tests against New Zealand -- and won all of them. Of the 584 goals the visitors scored, Dhyan Chand's personal tally was 200. Don Bradman was so surprised by the number of goals that he quipped: 'Were they made by a hockey player or a batsman?'

Dhyan Chand returned to his barracks in the Punjab Regiment after the 1928 Olympic Games. There was no peace for him as his army colleagues used to come and listen to his Olympic tales.

Emblazoned in gold on Dhyan Chand's jersey was his name. He owned the centre-forward position from now on. Though India did have other outstanding centre-forwards, none could match Dhyan Chand's game.

For 5 years in a row from 1931, Dhyan Chand helped his 14th Punjab Regiment win the Punjab Native hockey tournament. Due to his fame, opposing players used to specially target him. In 1933, Dhyan Chand's Punjab regiment was playing a match in Rawalpindi (now in Pakistan). With Dhyan Chand giving yet another display of his mastery in hockey, the opposing team's centre-half lost his cool and hurt Dhyan Chand's nose.

The game was stopped. After receiving first aid, Dhyan Chand returned to the field with his nose wrapped in a bandage. He went to the centre-half who had injured him and said, "Play carefully so that no one gets hurt." Dhyan Chand then went on to score 6 straight goals.

There have been many stories on how Dhyan Chand's stick was changed to see if he would still score goals.

Player

In a match in 1927(?) Chand exhibited his skills against the English hockey team, netting 36 of India's 72 goals in 10 matches, at the London Folkstone Festival.

In 1928 Chand was selected to represent the Indian hockey team in the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Chand helped India win the gold medal winning the finals against the Netherlands by a score of 3-0. He played in the centre-forward position and scored two of India's three goals.

In the 1932 Summer Olympics held at Los Angeles, USA, the team under Lal Shah Bukhari defended their title winning the gold. The team routed the United States hockey team 23-1, a world record that stood until 2003. He contributed eight of those goals, and along with his brother Roop Singh formed a formidable core of the team. He scored 12 goals in India's two matches in that Olympics and he had scored 133 goals out of India's 338 in that year.

Dhyan Chand rated Beighton Cup final of 1933 as his most memorable match. The match was played between Jhansi Heroes and Calcutta Customs. Surprisingly, he did not score in that match. He only provided the vital pass for the lone goal scored by the Jhansi Heroes. On their return journey, the Jhansi Heroes were crammed in an unreserved third class compartment. However, the warm welcome received at the station made it the most memorable match for Dhyan Chand.

n 1926, there was talk of the Indian army sending a hockey team to tour New Zealand. It was not in Dhyan Chand's nature to plead for his inclusion in the team. He felt his merit as a player would decide his selection. Being in the 'Other Ranks', he could not approach his officers to discuss the matter.

Thus he was overjoyed when the commanding officer of his regiment told him one day, "Boy, you are going to New Zealand." Though dumbfounded, Dhyan Chand managed to salute the officer. Later, overwhelmed at this opportunity, he broke down in his barracks. Tears of joy also came to the eyes of Bhole Tiwari when he learnt that Dhyan Chand's perseverance had finally paid off.

Due to lack of money, Dhyan Chand could not obtain good clothes for the tour. His main personal outfit was his military kit.

In April 1926, the Indian army hockey team set off by ship from Colombo. After 20 - 25 days on water, the team reached New Zealand in early May.

This was the first team to represent India abroad in any sport. Thus the players were conscious of the fact that they had to project a good image. During a 1935 tour of New Zealand and Australia, he scored 201 goals out of the team's tally of 584 in 43 matches. Don Bradman and Dhyan Chand once came face to face at Adelaide in 1935, when the Indian hockey team was in Australia. After watching Dhyan Chand in action, Don Bradman remarked "He scores goals like runs in cricket".

Dhyan Chand was hugely successful on this tour. In one match at Dannkerke, India scored 20 goals out of which Dhyan Chand was responsible for 10 goals. Against the New Zealand national team, India won the first match 5-2, but lost the next 3-4.

Overall, India played 21 matches, won 18, drew 2, and lost 1. The Indians scored 192 goals while conceding only 24 goals. Dhyan Chand scored over 100 goals and became a popular player.

Indeed, such was his impact that two women followed the Indian team from New Plymouth to Auckland only to see Dhyan Chand in action. The told him that they could never forget his dribbling.

The Indian team was feted and honoured with feasts and lavish dinners. The treatment that Dhyan Chand and the rest of his army mates got was that of heroes.

News of Dhyan Chand's exploits reached India as the local newspapers carried reports of the Indian team's progress. Dhyan Chand got promoted to Lance Nayak on his return to India. The success in New Zealand gave Dhyan Chand tremendous inspiration, and he felt there should be no slackness on his part.

This 1926 Army tour started India's hockey story, and with it, Dhyan Chand's legendary prowess.

Nearly half a century later, when Dhyan Chand's son Ashok Kumar visited New Zealand, he was surprised to see pictures in many hockey clubs of his father's 1926 Army tour.

On one occasion, a Dhyan Chand fan showed Ashok the cuttings on the hockey wizard that he had collected and kept safely all these years.

Ashok had another touching experience. A man came up to him and showed some wooden splinters that he had kept from Dhyan Chand's hockey stick. During a match in the 1926 army tour, Dhyan Chand's stick had broken and the maestro threw it away. The fans had made a dash for it, and many people took away broken splinters.

In a match in 1927 he exhibited his skills against the English hockey team, netting 36 of India's 72 goals in 10 matches, at the London Folkstone Festival.

In 1928 Chand was selected to represent the Indian hockey team in the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Chand helped India win the gold medal winning the finals against the Netherlands by a score of 3-0. He played in the centre-forward position and scored two of India's three goals.

On the field he was named the "Wizard of Hockey" for he exerted complete control on the ball. It appeared that the ball used to stick to his hockey stick while playing. Tokyo officials broke his hockey stick to search for a magnet inside, and tried to console themselves saying he had added some sort of glue. On one occasion, a lady from the audience asked Dhyan Chand to play with her walking stick instead. He scored goals even with them.

When everbody else thought he was going to shoot, he passed. On that 1947 tour, he put through a ball to KD Singh Babu, then turned his back and walked away. When Babu later asked the reason for this odd behaviour, he was told, "If you could not get a goal from that you did not deserve to be on my team".

The hockey wizard not only mesmerised millions within pre-partition India but became a household name in all hockey-playing nations. His deft stick-work and amazing ball control left fellow players and spectators awestruck. For two decades, until he bid goodbye to international hockey in 1948, Dhyan Chand became virtually synonymous with hockey, playing numerous matches and scoring hundreds of goals.

He was admired and feared by his opponents, who felt that the ball got stuck to his stick when he played. But his fame notwithstanding, Dhyan Chand, a centre-forward, was an innately selfless person. If he felt either of the two flanks was in a better position to score, he would flick the ball to the well-placed player instantly. To say he was an icon is correct, but only a context can provide a precise measure of such status. Gurbux Singh, 1964 Olympian, provides it when he says,"When I grew up, to achieve anything in sport was to do it in hockey." As the century turned into its last quarter, it held pre-eminence, lifted by India's first Olympic gold in 1928 and kept there till the `70s by a conveyor belt, so terribly rusted now, that rolled out champions like fast food.

In the 1932 Summer Olympics held at Los Angeles, USA, the team under Lal Shah Bukhari defended their title winning the gold. The team routed the United States hockey team 24-1, a record that exists till today. He contributed eight of those goals, and along with his brother Roop Singh formed a formidable core of the team. That particular year, he had scored 133 goals out of India's 338. He was supposidely so fast that TV analysis of his gameplay was rendered too slow!

Dhyan Chand rated Beighton Cup final of 1933 as his most memorable match. The match was played between Jhansi Heroes and Calcutta Customs. Surprisingly, he did not score in that match. He only provided the vital pass for the lone goal scored by the Jhansi Heroes. On their return journey, the Jhansi Heroes were crammed in an unreserved third class compartment. However, the warm welcome received at the station made it the most memorable match for Dhyan Chand.

1928 Amsterdam Olympics

In the first 3 modern Olympics (1896 - 1904), hockey was not one of the sports included. Hockey made its debut in the 1908 London Olympics, where England won the gold among 6 nations.

Excluded from the 1912 Olympics, hockey staged another comeback in the 1920 Antwerp Olympics. Four nations participated in the event, with England yet again winning the gold. Hockey was not included in the 1924 Paris Olympics.

There was a strong possibility that hockey would be included in the 1928 Olympics. The International Hockey Federation, which was formed in this period, was lobbying the International Olympic Committee to include hockey in the Olympics.

The Indian Hockey Federation (IHF), founded in 1925, was also lobbying for hockey as an Olympic sport. In preparation for that possibility, the IHF had already conducted its inaugural national championship in 1925. The successful Indian army tour of New Zealand in 1926 had convinced the IHF that an Indian team should participate in the Olympics.

However, one problem remained. As England had won both the Olympic hockey tournaments held thus far, Britain was not keen that India, then its colony, participate in the Olympics. After an appeal, the British agreed to India's participation as the British Indian hockey team.

It is a matter of record that from 1928 till India won independence in 1947, Britain never competed in the same Olympic hockey tournament as India. The first meeting between India and Britain would take place two decades later, in the 1948 Olympic hockey final at Wembley, London. India won this match 4-1 to assert its hockey supremacy in the world.

Anyway, the IHF got to send a team for the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics. Dhyan Chand got selected in this first ever Indian Olympic hockey team.

There was some alarm when the IHF said that they could send only the minimum 11 players. Eventually, the availability of funds made it possible for two more players to join the team.

Before leaving for Amsterdam, the Indian team played some trial matches. The Olympians surprisingly lost to Bombay 2-3, with Dhyan Chand scoring both his team's goals.

Could this first Indian Olympic team really win the Olympic gold?

Setting sail for Amsterdam on March 10, 1928, on the ship Kaiser-i-Hind, Dhyan Chand never forgot the send-off. Just three persons, the IHF president, the IHF vice-president, and a journalist wished them bon voyage. Dhyan Chand later recalled that just these 3 persons, out of around 400 million Indians, considered it important to see off the players.

Some of the players who had never experienced a sea voyage before fell sick. Since Dhyan Chand had travelled by ship earlier, he managed to keep himself healthy.

The 9 countries participating in the 1928 Olympic hockey tournament were India, Holland, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, France, Switzerland and Spain. Divided into two pools, the pool winners were to meet for the gold medal.

On May 17, after having travelled thousands of miles from home, India began their quest for Olympic gold and glory when it played against Austria. The weather was fine, and the Indian team was confident and determined. It was an easy game for India, and they won 6-0. Dhyan Chand scored 4 of those goals, showing that he was in top form.

Against Belgium the next day, the Indian team made some changes and won easily 9-0. India next played Denmark on the 20th, and the Danish goalkeeper created many problems for Dhyan Chand and stopped certain goals. India still won 5-0 and were through to the semi-finals.

On May 22, India beat Switzerland 6-0 in the semi-final. Thus India qualified for the Olympic hockey final, where it would clash against hosts Holland for the gold.

In the trial matches prior to the Olympics, India had beaten the Dutch Olympic XI 8-1. This helped them get familiar with their Dutch counterparts, and India was confident of beating them again. However, Holland had the advantage of their home crowd support.

Many years later, Dhyan Chand recalled the 1928 Olympic hockey final against Holland. "At this distant date, I still remember the circumstances in which India took the field on May 26 to win the highest honour in world hockey.

I was ill, and running a high temperature which persisted all throughout the game. That day, our manager A. B. Rosser coined a slogan for us - Do or Die. I was a soldier by profession, and when the country's honour was at stake, there was no alternative but to march boldly into the battlefield."

A huge crowd of 50,000 people had come to cheer their home team. In a memorable encounter, India played attractive hockey and outplayed Holland 3-0. Dhyan Chand had the distinction of scoring two of those goals. Holland put up a brave fight that impressed Dhyan Chand.

Indian goalkeeper Richard Allen had the unique record of not conceding a single goal throughout the tournament. Without doubt, India were the champions of world hockey.

A newspaper report about India's triumph said the following, "This is not a game of hockey, but magic. Dhyan Chand is in fact the magician of hockey." Another newspaper commented, "It is not only the number of goals that Dhyan Chand scores, but the way he scores them."

On May 29, the Indian team lined up to receive their Olympic gold medals. When they returned to Bombay, instead of a mere 3 persons who had given them a send-off, a heroes welcome awaited the Olympic champions.

There was also a unique first - the gold medal won by the Indian hockey team in 1928 was the first Olympic gold medal won by Asia in the modern Olympics.

1932 Los Angeles olympics

The Inter-Provincial Tournament, as the national hockey championship was called in those days, was held just before the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics.

The Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) wrote to the Army Sports Control Board for Dhyan Chand's leave for the nationals. Dhyan Chand was on duty at a place called Waziristan in the remote North West Frontier Province (now in Pakistan). His platoon did not give him leave for the nationals.

Later, Dhyan Chand read about his inclusion in the Indian team in the newspapers. This unexpected development pleased Dhyan Chand. Apart from Dhyan Chand, Broome Eric Pinnegar, Leslie Hammond and Richard Allen were the other 1928 Olympians retained in the team. Roop Singh was also included in the squad, and he was to play as a left-in.

Just like in 1928, the problem of expenses came up again. The IHF had to grapple with the task of raising funds to go as far as Los Angeles. The IHF thought that a public appeal in the name of Mahatma Gandhi would help them raise funds for the trip.

The IHF sent its representative, Mr. Charles Newman, to meet Gandhiji, who was then in Simla for the Gandhi-Irwin talks. After Newman told him the reason for his visit, Gandhiji simply asked, "What is hockey?"

The 1932 Olympic team played a couple of practice matches in India before heading for Colombo. In two matches in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), the Olympic team beat All Ceylon XI 20-0 and 10-0.

Wrote one newspaper on the first match, "Perfection is perilous, for it tempts the gods. For once, this was proved wrong for even the god of weather paid tribute to the genius of the Indian players. Rain clouds, which had threatened to ruin the game, vanished into the blue, and thousands of spectators spent a happy hour marvelling at the incomparable artistry of the Indian team."

The second match was witnessed by the Governor of Ceylon, Sir Graeme Thompson, who remarked, "Is the match really over? I feel that I have been watching the Indians play for only five minutes."

On August 4, 1932, India played against Japan and won 11-1. Dhyan Chand scored 4 goals, and Roop Singh 3. By half-time, India was ahead by 4 goals, leaving Japan no option but to play a defensive game.

Japan beat America 9-2 on August 6. India played America on August 11 to decide the gold medal. Some 5000 spectators and the local Indian population came to watch the match.

Dhyan Chand recounted the match in these words, "On August 11, we met the United States in the final match of the tournament. It was a cakewalk for us, and we won by 24 goals to 1. A few American players even suggested that to make it a contest, the Indians ought to play left-handed or wear snow shoes.

At the interval, we were leading by 10 goals to nil. Incidentally, the 24 goals was a world record. I scored 8 goals, Roop Singh 10, Gurmeet Singh 5 and Pinnegar 1. The lone American goal was scored by Bodlington."

One Los Angeles newspaper wrote, "The All-India field hockey team which G. D. Sondhi brought to Los Angeles to defend their 1928 Olympic title, was like a typhoon out of the east. They trampled under their feet and all but shoved out of the Olympic stadium the eleven players representing the United States."

The Los Angeles Times wrote, "The Americans looked liked a junior team and were disjointed. The Indian forwards made lightening flashes, and both Dhyan and Roop were an inspiration to the side."

Dhyan Chand and Roop Singh scored 25 out of the 35 goals scored by India. This gives an indication of the havoc the two brothers caused among the defenders. They were called the 'hockey twins'. Roop Singh, with his LA Olympic Pass No. 3770, proved his credentials with this display. He was as illustrious as Dhyan Chand.

A cartoon published in the Evening News of India showed Dhyan Chand's stick in the form of a cobra, and Dhyan Chand whistling in front of it like a snake charmer. The hockey stick expresses its feeling with American expressions like 'Gee Wiz'.

The Viceroy of India sent a cable congratulating the Indian team. It read, "I am delighted to learn of the splendid victory of our hockey team. Please give all members of the side my warm congratulations upon retaining the world championship."

Los Angeles was the center of the American film industry. The victorious Indian Olympic team met the famous film comedian Charlie Chaplin in the Olympic village. The team also visited Metro Goldwyn Meyer (MGM) studios. They could not meet the famous actress of that time, Greta Garbo, who had died recently.

Since their out-of-pocket allowances were meagre, the Indian team decided to play a series of fund-raising matches. The Olympic champions toured major American cities, and in Europe, played international matches against Holland, England, Germany, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. The Indians played in such far-flung cities such as Budapest, Vienna, Florence, Rome and Naples.

A tumultuous welcome awaited the Olympic champions on their arrival in India. The team played matches in Colombo, Lahore and Bombay in the Indian subcontinent.

At the end of this mega tour, India played 37 matches, winning 34, drawing 2, with one abandoned. In these matches, India showed its might in world hockey by scoring 338 goals and conceding just 34 goals. Dhyan Chand himself scored an amazing 133 goals, while Roop Singh scored 94 goals.

With regard to the original aim of raising money, the team still ended up short by Rs. 3000!

1936 Summer Olympics final

In 1936, as in 1932, the Inter-Provincial tournament was the basis for selection to the Olympic team. The Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) had written to the Army Sports Control Board requesting that Dhyan Chand be granted leave for participation in the selection trials. Yet again, the Army authorities refused permission due to Dhyan Chand's frontier posting.

By missing the trials, no player could be selected for the team. Consequently, Dhyan Chand's name did not figure in the list of players for the 1936 Berlin Olympics squad.

A big outcry resulted. There was great dismay when people read in the newspapers that Dhyan Chand was excluded from the team. People felt that India was making a big mistake by not including Dhyan Chand.

The IHF again approached the Army, and this time they relented. Just a few days before the Indian team's departure, Dhyan Chand reached Delhi. Had Dhyan Chand not made it to the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Indian hockey might have taken a different course!

The appointment of the Indian team captain was still pending. One nominee for the captaincy, Syed Mohammad Jafar, withdrew in Dhyan Chand's favour. The President of the IHF, Kunwar Jagdish Prasad, appointed Dhyan Chand as the captain.

Thus was fulfilled Dhyan Chand's lifelong ambition of leading India in the Olympics. Apart from Dhyan Chand, the only other player on his 3rd consecutive Olympic appearance was goalkeeper Richard James Allen.

For Dhyan Chand's brother Roop Singh, it was his second Olympics. Roop Singh told his brother that he did not have proper clothes for the tour. Dhyan Chand scolded Roop Singh for thinking in such terms and said he would give him his clothes. A few days before departing for Berlin, Dhyan Chand got married to Janaki Devi.

The Berlin-bound Indian team lost 1-4 in a practice match in Delhi. Dhyan Chand wondered if India would lose the Olympic title under his captaincy.

The team set sail on June 27 on the Kanpur. Two players who had never experienced a sea voyage before became seasick. At Aden, Dhyan Chand met his army colleagues from the Punjab Regiment, and the team practised on their ground. From Aden, they set sail for Marseilles.

After reaching Marseilles, the rest of their journey was by land. They went to Paris by train, and after taking in the sights of Paris, the Indian contingent finally reached Berlin on July 13. Many times there was no sleeping accommodation, or adequate money for food, but the team faced all hardships cheerfully.

Germany's dictator Adolf Hitler was using the Olympics as an instrument for his Nazi propaganda. Throughout Berlin, there were thousands of swastikas, the symbol of Nazism, and martial music was played continuously. The sounds of 'Heil Hitler', the way the Nazis greeted Hitler, resounded everywhere.

Dhyan Chand captained the Indian team in 1936 Summer Olympics final. His team had gone down to the Germans in a friendly match, shortly before the Olympics. But this time, India's forward line was reinforced by the inclusion of Ali Iqtidar Shah Dara, who managed to reach Berlin just in time for the final. he Berlin Olympics hockey stadium was the best that Dhyan Chand had seen so far. The opening ceremony of the Games took place on August 1, with the giant airship Hindenberg dominating the ceremony.

Hitler had used the opening of these Games to show the world the supposed might of the Nazi Army. Huge swastikas lined up the massive stadium filled with 100,000 cheering spectators. A controversy arose with some teams saluting Hitler and some not acknowledging the dictator during the march past. Rung during the opening ceremony was a massive bell weighing 14,000 kgs (tons).

Hitler received an olive branch from Spyridion Louis, the Greek winner of the marathon in the first modern Olympics in Athens in 1896. An Olympic torch got lit for the first time with the help of the sun's rays. Overall, the arrangements were superb, and in use were the latest technology and communication systems.

In their first match on August 5, India played Hungary and won 4-0. The Hungarian defense and their goalkeper kept the score down. Handicapped in their movements because it had started to rain after the opening whistle, the Indian forwards found the ground soggy.

On August 7, in good weather and ground conditions, India played USA and beat them 7-0. India then played Japan on August 10, and beat them 9-0. Japan had picked up a lot from India since the last Olympics, and no goal was scored in the first twenty minutes of play.

The same evening, the much awaited A. I. S. Dara flew into Berlin, and there was jubilation in the Indian camp. Fielding Dara, India played France in the semi-finals on August 12, and won by 10 goals. Dara scored 2 goals, Dhyan Chand scored 4 goals, and Roop Singh hit in 2 goals.

Meanwhile, Germany had whipped Denmark 6-0, beat Afghanistan 4-1 and in the play-offs, beat Holland 3-0.

Thus India and Germany were to clash in the 1936 Berlin Olympics hockey final. The hockey world was about to see Dhyan Chand in one of his most memorable and mesmerising displays on the hockey field.

A crowd of 40,000 that included the Maharaja of Baroda and a large number of Indians who had travelled from all over the Continent and England had turned out to see the final battle. The audience included Adolf Hitler, and top Nazi officials like Hermann Goering, Joseph Goebells, Joachim Ribbentrop and others.

The vast crowd cheered both the teams as they entered the field. In contrast to our despondency, the Germans appeared to feel that they were playing against a very inferior Indian side. According to a newspaper, the nervousness of the Indian players increased because the burden of India's honour was on their shoulders.

In a patriotic note, they raised the Indian tricolour in the dressing room and sang Vande Mataram an Indian nationalist song, rather than the British national anthem, which they were obliged to sing.

The whistle blew for the start of the game. The crowd roared as Germany adopted India's game and took to short passing. The sun had come out and the ground soon dried out, though the turf was still very soft.

Packed with thrilling incidents, the final had the vast crowd at the edge of their seats. The Germans undercut and lifted the ball in a game played at a very fast pace. Twice India's Dara tried to score but was off-side on both occasions. Germany had been successful at stopping the Indian forwards and it was becoming very difficult for the Indians to score.

It was clear that the first goal scored would be important. In the 32nd minute, Roop Singh scored from a difficult angle after getting a pass from Jafar. This was the only goal India scored till half-time.

During the break, Dhyan Chand huddled his team together and congratulated them on their play so far. He cautioned them that the one goal lead was very small, and that Germany could equalise anytime.

The Indian team got into their rhythm in the second half. Dhyan Chand scored in the opening minutes of the half. India then scored a barrage of goals - four in five minutes to seal the fate of the match.

Roop Singh had an interesting observation on this stage of the match, "Dhyan Chand, a supremely unselfish artist who never held on to the ball for even a second more than necessary, was seen in a rare selfish mode. He shouted to us - direct all passes to me, I will take care from there on."

As the ground was still slippery due to the rain, Dhyan Chand discarded his spiked shoes and stockings and played with his bare feet and rubber soles. It was the incredible stickwork of Dhyan Chand that had the crowd gasping. The way he moved with the ball, as if it was stuck to his hockey stick, puzzled all those who were present.

After India had scored four goals, Germany finally opened its account off a rebound from goalkeeper Richard Allen. This was the first goal conceded by India in the Olympic tournament. It would be the only goal they would concede.

After the sixth goal scored by India, the Germans decided to go after the Indian captain. The German players started to play aggressively and go for rough tackles on Dhyan Chand. The German goalkeeper even broke one of Dhyan Chand's teeth in a clash.

After receiving first aid, Dhyan Chand came back to the field and instructed his team not to score any more goals. "We must teach them a lesson in ball control," he told his team.

The Indian team would take the ball to the German 'D', then back pass among themselves, then take it again to the goalmouth but not score. This strategy baffled the Germans. Dara and Dhyan Chand rounded off the tally in the last few minutes of the game to make the final score India 8 - Germany 1.

The goal scorers had been Roop Singh, Tapsell and Jafar with one each, Dara with two and skipper Dhyan Chand with three. Dara and Dhyan Chand had combined well, and proved to be the duo that undid the Germans.

After the final, as the Indian players were rejoicing at the victory, Dhyan Chand appeared a little sad. On being asked the reason, he said that if this victory had come under the Indian flag, he would have been all the more pleased. More than a decade later, he relished the fact that India became independent on the historic day of August 15, 1947.

India was leading 1-0 at the interval. It has been said that the wet pitch was to blame. Chand removed his shoes, playing barefoot whilst his teammates and opposition were wearing spiked shoes. In the second term, India scored seven goals. After trailing 0-6, the Germans are reported to have resorted to rough play. In a collision with the German goalkeeper, Dhyan Chand broke one of his teeth, but was soon back in action. India won the match 8-1, with Dhyan Chand scoring 6 goals. A reporter said about Dhyan Chand's performance - "With a flick of the wrist, a quick glance of his eyes, a sharp turn and then another turn, and Dhyan Chand was through." Images of this game can be found in the Leni Riefenstahl film, "Olympia."

Impressed by his performance, Adolf Hitler supposedly offered to make Dhyan Chand a Field Marshal in the German army, but the latter refused. Chand scored 59 of India's 175 goals in the pre-Olympic matches and 11 of 38 in the Olympics.

After World War II, he continued to play till the age 42. He hit a total of 61 goals in 22 matches against East Africa. In 1948 he retired from the sport.

Adolf Hitler left his special box in a huff, after Germany's rout. Next day, he invited him for a meeting the following day. Hitler asked Dhyan Chand what post did he hold in India. On learning that the hockey wizard was a mere Naik in the Indian army, Hitler offered to make Dhyan Chand a Field marshal should he decide to live in Germany. Dhyan Chand politely refused, saying that he had a large family to look after, in India. Another version is that Hitler called him up at the end of the match and asked him the question, "What will you take to play for Germany?" To this, Dhyan Chand replied "Nothing sir, India is my India". He had scored a total of 59 out of the team's tally of 175 that Olympics.

Fan incidents

Dhyan Chand was a very simple man. Once he played in an exhibition match with a women's team at Prague, after the Olympic Games. A female fan was highly impressed by his game and expressed her desire to kiss him. He stepped back, saying that he was a married person!

Once, some time after the Partition of India, Dhyan Chand was seen at the Lahore railway station, on way to Peshawar as a part of the Indian team that was scheduled to take part in Joshan celebrations in Afghanistan. Thousands of his Pakistani fans rushed to the station to catch a glimpse of the wizard. The surging crowds led to breakdown of all arrangements. One of the members of the Indian team, Krishan Kumar Kakar narrated "Such was the scene on all stations right up to Peshawar where the train reached more than four hours behind the schedule."

Don Bradman and Dhyan Chand

During a 1935 tour of New Zealand and Australia, he scored 201 goals out of the team's tally of 584 in 43 matches. Don Bradman and Dhyan Chand once came face to face at Adelaide in 1935, when the Indian hockey team was in Australia. After watching Dhyan Chand in action, pala remarked "He scores goals like runs in cricket".

Dhyan Chand's last days

He coached for a while, then settled in his beloved Jhansi, still the fisherman, the hunter of deer, who loved to cook - but short of money.

"Once he went to a tournament in Ahmedabad, and they turned him away not knowing who he was," says Ashok (son of Dhyan Chand). "And he never saw any comfort."

When Dhyan Chand fell ill, liver cancer as it turned out, and 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, but the fact that public memory had to be jogged tells its own story.

In Jhansi they had a funeral, not in the ghat, but on the ground that he played on. Players came, but it seemed a little too late. It made it hard to forget the first few words of his autobiography 'Goal': "You are doubtless aware that I am a common man."

Honours & Awards

August 29 is celebrated as National Sports Day when the national sporting awards are handed out by the President of India at Rashtrapathi Bhavan. Dhyan Chand's imposing statue at the entrance of the National Stadium (main venue of the inaugural Asian Games in 1951) is a reminder of the all-time legend of hockey who brought so much glory to both the game and the nation.

In 1956, at the age of 43, he retired from the army with the rank of Major. The Government of India honoured him that year by conferring him the Padma Bhushan (India's third highest civilian honour). However the Arjuna award for sports excellence was never awarded to him.

Government of Bharat released a postage stamp in his honour on December 3, 1980, exactly a year after he died in hospital.

Dhyan Chand won a number of awards and accolades during his illustrious career. One of the most touching gestures came from the residents of Vienna, who built a statue of the Indian with four hands and four sticks, signifying his unparallel control over the ball.

One of his statues is near the India Gate, New Delhi while another has been erected in 2005 at Medak in Andhra Pradesh.

In 2002, the union sports ministry of India introduced a Lifetime Achievement Award in sports in the name of Dhyan Chand.

Post retirement

After his retirement, Dhyan Chand earned a diploma in coaching from the National Institute of Sports in Patiala, in Punjab. However he found it difficult to coach something that was innate to him.

Residents of Vienna, Austria honoured him by setting up a statue of him with four hands and four sticks, depicting his control and mastery over the ball. One of his famous statues is at the National Stadium near India Gate, New Delhi while another was erected in 2005 at Medak in Andhra Pradesh.

In 1956, at the age of 51, he retired from the army with the rank of Major. The Government of India honoured him that year by conferring him the Padma Bhushan (India's third highest civilian honour).

Death

Chand however died penniless and uncared for in a hospital, receiving a meagre pension. Dhyan Chand was very sad to see India finish seventh at the Montreal Olympics, 1976. The Indian team included his son, Ashok Kumar Singh. His grand daughter Neha Singh played for India in the 1998 World Cup.

When he was on his deathbed at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, he reportedly told a doctor that Indian hockey was dying. He then went into a coma and died in 1979.

A year after his death, the Indian Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp in his honour. In addition, Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi is named in his honor.

National sports day

29 August, his birthday is celebrated as the National Sports Day in India. The President gives away sport-related awards such as the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, Arjuna Award and Dronacharya Award on this day at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

To commemorate his memory, the Government of India has instituted Dhyan Chand Award which is presented each year to those sportspersons who not only contribute through their performance but also contribute to the sport after their retirement.

Legends

There are many legends about Dhyan which are impossible to verify. Once, some time after the Partition of India, Dhyan Chand was seen at the Lahore railway station, on way to Peshawar as a part of the Indian team that was scheduled to take part in Joshan celebrations in Afghanistan. Thousands of his Pakistani fans rushed to the station to catch a glimpse of the wizard. The surging crowds led to breakdown of all arrangements. One of the members of the Indian team, Krishan Kumar Kakar narrated "Such was the scene on all stations right up to Peshawar where the train reached more than four hours behind the schedule."

On the field he was named the "Wizard of Hockey" for he exerted complete control on the ball. It appeared that the ball used to stick to his hockey stick while playing. So great was the magic of Dhyan Chand that the Tokyo officials broke his hockey stick to search for a magnet inside, and tried to console themselves saying he had added some sort of glue. On one occasion, a lady from the audience asked Dhyan Chand to play with her walking stick instead. He was supposidely so fast that TV analysis of his gameplay was rendered too slow! Once during a tour of Lyon in 1963, a female fan planted a kiss on Dhyan Chand despite him trying his best to avoid that.

Dhyan Chand Hobbies

In those days, shikar, or hunting was not yet banned by the government. Dhyan Chand owned a licensed army gun which he would use for hunting. He also loved to fish, and like every fishing enthusiast, he would spend hours fishing.

Cooking was his other favourite hobby. He had labels stuck on different daals, or pulses, so that he could easily locate them. For him, cooking was a source of joy, especially when he prepared and served food to close friends. Dhyan Chand was a non-vegetarian. He enjoyed making mutton and fish dishes. He liked making halwa dripping with ghee. He had a habit of drinking milk while standing up. He believed that in this manner, the milk went straight into the body system.

His indoor pastime was billiards. He had an orthodox style of playing billiards, and he would handle the cue in a very odd way. However, once he started scoring, like in hockey, he never stopped. After retirement in Jhansi, he used to play billiards till late in the night.

Dhyan Chand also played cricket well, and was good at batting due to his strong wrists. He enjoyed hitting sixes and fours. Many times at the National Institute of Sports, Patiala, he used to play cricket with small children. Later in life, he used to play carroms with his sons.

Dhyan Chand loved photography. He did not have the money to buy an expensive camera, so he carried a very old camera and took pictures with it whenever he could.

Dhyan Chand admitted that he was not a good social mixer. While at home or during play, he kept to himself. He thought that it would be better if he kept quiet and just did his duty or job.

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References

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