Dhyan Chand joined the British Indian Army at the age of just 16 years. During the course of his international career, Dhyan Chand scored more than 400 goals.
In a few years, it will be a century since Major Dhyan Chand's first international hockey game which he played in 1926 and yet, there has been no Indian hockey player with a better field record in all these years. This goes on to show the legend that was Major Dhyan Chand.
Born in an Army family on August 29, 1905, in present-day Prayagraj (Uttar Pradesh), Dhyan Chand grew up to be an Army man like his father and elder brother. After joining the British Indian Army at the age of just 16 years in 1922, Dhyan
Chand started playing hockey under the supervision of Subedar Major Tiwari, who was himself a sports lover.
Given his “outstanding performance on the field”, Dhyan Chand was soon made the Lance Naik in 1927. The same year, he captained the Indian side in an international hockey game. His wonders with the hockey stick and superb ball control not only made him climb up posts — from Lieutenant to Major — real fast but also earned him the title of ‘hockey wizard’.
The hockey legend was originally named Dhyan Singh but he received the nickname ‘Chand’ (moon) as he used to practice all night in the moonlight after wrapping up his regimental duties.
During his international career, between 1926 and 1948, Dhyan Chand scored more than 400 goals. In his entire career, his goal count breached the 1,000-mark. Under his leadership, India won three successive gold medals at the 1928, 1932 and 1936 Summer Olympics.
His performance in the 1936 Berlin Olympic final is considered to be among the best hockey performances of all time. He scored three goals in the match which helped India win the game against Germany by 8-1.
In 1952, Chand launched his autobiography Goal!. Later, in 1956, he retired from the Army and was given the Padma Bhushan, India's third highest civilian honour. After retirement, he taught at coaching camps at Mount Abu, Rajasthan.
Later, he also served as India's hockey coach. Dhyan Chand died on December 3, 1979, in Delhi after slipping into a coma. As a tribute to him, the government of India renamed the National Stadium of Delhi the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium.
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(Edited by : Sudarsanan Mani)