Major Dhyan Chand was one of the best field hockey players the world has ever seen. Such was his wizardry at the field that as the centre-forward, he scored an unheard of 400 goals in his illustrious career. His greatness has inspired generations of players to take up the national sport and the govt of India observes this day, i.e. his birthday on August 29 of every year, as National Sports Day, when The President of our nation gives away sport-related awards such as the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, Arjuna Award and Dronacharya Award at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Let us tell you some interesting facts about his life.
1. His real name was Dhyan Singh. The suffix “Chand”, meaning moon, was attached by one of his fellow army-men because of his tendency to practice late at night when the moon was high and shining.
2. He scored 14 goals at the Amsterdam Olympics, 1928. A newspaper said the following about him, “This is not a game of hockey, but magic. Dhyan Chand is in fact the magician of hockey.”
3. In the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, India beat USA 24-1 and Japan 11-1 to win Gold again. He scored 12 goals while his brother Roop Singh netted 13 out of the 35 goals India scored. This led to them being dubbed the 'hockey twins'.
4. In 1933, his home team, the Jhansi Heroes participated in and won the Beighton Cup, which he considered the most prestigious of Indian hockey tournaments. He even considered the final between his team and the Calcutta Customs as the best match he ever played.
5. After India’s first match at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, people watching other sporting events thronged to the hockey stadium. A German newspaper carried a banner headline: 'The Olympic complex now has a magic show too.' The whole city of Berlin had posters: “Visit the hockey stadium to watch the Indian magician Dhyan Chand in action.”
6. According to widespread reports, German dictator Adolf Hitler offered Dhyan Chand German citizenship and a position in the German Military, after an impressive showing at the Berlin Olympics. The offer was politely declined.
7. Hockey authorities in the Netherlands once broke his hockey stick to check if there was a magnet inside.
8. Despite all the love and respect he gained owing to his stupendous show with the hockey stick, he died an inconspicuous death, owing to liver cancer.
Title image: IloveIndia