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DHYAN CHAND
Date of Birth 29-08-1905
Nationality Indian
Sunsign Virgo
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Dhyan Chand (29 August 1905 – 3 December 1979) was an Indian field hockey player who was considered to be one of the greatest players of all time.Chand is most remembered for his goal-scoring feats and for his three Olympic gold medals (1928, 1932, and 1936) in field hockey, while India was dominant in the sport.He is best known as “the Wizard” for his superb ball control, Chand played his final international match in 1948, having scored more than 400 goals during his international career.

Early life

He was the elder brother of fellow player Roop Singh. His father Sameshwar Dutt Singh was in the Indian Army, and he played hockey in the army. Dhyan Chand had two brothers - Mool Singh, and Roop Singh. Because of Sameshwar Dutt s numerous army transfers, the family had to move to different cities and as such Chand had to terminate his education after only six years of schooling. The family finally settled in Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh, India. Being in the military, Dhyan s father got a small piece of land for a house.
Young Chand had no serious inclination towards sports, though he loved wrestling. He stated that he did not remember whether he played any hockey worth mentioning before he joined the Army, though he said that he occasionally indulged in casual games in Jhansi with his friends.Chand joined the Indian Army at the age of 16, The Hindi word Chand literally means the moon. Since Dhyan Singh used to practice a lot during night after his duty hours, he invariably used to wait for the moon to come out so that the visibility in the field (during his era there were no flood lights)improved. Hence he was called Chand, by his fellow players, as his practice sessions at night invariably coincided with the coming out from the moon.

Early career

Between 1922 and 1926, Chand exclusively played army hockey tournaments and regimental games. Chand was ultimately selected for the Indian Army team which was to tour New Zealand. The team won 18 matches, drew 2 and lost only 1, receiving praises from all spectators. Following this, in the two Test matches against the New Zealand squad, the team won the first and narrowly lost the second. Returning to India, Chand was immediately promoted to Lance Naik.After successfully lobbying for reintroducing field hockey in the Olympics, the newly formed Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) made preparations to send its best possible team for the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics. In 1925, an Inter-Provincial Tournament was held to select India s national field hockey team. Five teams participated in the inaugural nationals - United Provinces (UP), Punjab, Bengal, Rajputana and Central Provinces. Chand got permission from the Army to play for the United Provinces team.In its first game on February 14, 1928, UP tied with Punjab 3-3. This was Chand s first civilian match. In the subsequent replay matches, UP won by the odd goal in three and qualified for the final. UP ultimately won the final against Rajputana, in which Chand scored a goal. According to The Statesman, Kolkata, “The United Provinces were the most impressive side out of the five, and they fully deserved their success. UP won the final virtually in the first seven minutes when they scored two goals.The UP forward line moved with precision and smoothness in all the matches, and that played a very big part in their success in the tournament. Dhyan Chand as the centre-forward, and Marthins, their inside-right, were particularly happy in their understanding of each other. Dhyan Chand attracted much attention by his clever stickwork. His penetrating runs and judicious passes seemed to assure for him a position in the team that is to take part in the Olympic Games.

Quite early in the game, it became evident that Dhyan Chand was again at his best. In combination with Marthins he took the ball away to the right and Marthins did well to give him a good pass. Quick as lightning, Dhyan Chand shot a goal. The ball struck one of the defenders stick and went into the net, giving goalkeeper Collie no chance. A goal within 3 minutes of the start was more than what the most optimistic of the UP supporters could expect. At the interval, UP led by three goals to nil.On their part, Rajputana put every ounce of their efforts to score. The UP goal had more than one narrow escape, but they were deserving winners of a fine exhibition match. UP 3 - Rajputana 1.Buoyed by the success of the Tournament, it was decided that it would be held every two years. After two more trial matches between various hopefuls, the Olympic team (including Chands as center-forward) was announced and assembled in Bombay. Center-half Broome Eric Pinniger was selected as the captain. The IHF was initially low on funds since the provinces of Bombay, Madras and Burma had turned a deaf ear to their financial appeal, but they managed to scrape enough money. The Olympic team then played a match against the Bombay XI, and amazingly lost 3-2, even though Singh scored both his team s goals. With a quiet send-off, the team left for England on March 10, to play 11 matches against local sides as well in the Folkestone Festival, winning all. Finally, on April 24, the team arrived in Amsterdam to embark on a tour of the Low Countries. In all the pre-Olympic matches against local Dutch, German and Belgian teams, the Indian team won by large margins.


1928 Amsterdam Summer Olympics

In the 1928 Amsterdam Summer Olympics, the Indian team was put in the division A table, with Austria, Belgium, Denmark and Switzerland . On May 17 the Indian national hockey team made its Olympic debut against Austria, winning 6-0, with Chand scoring 3 goals. The next day India defeated Belgium 9-0; however Chand only scored once. On May 20, Denmark lost to India 5-0, with Chand netting 3. Two days later, he scored 4 goals when India defeated Switzerland 6-0 in the semi-finals.The final match took place on May 26, with India facing the home team of the Netherlands. The Indian team s better players Feroze Khan, Ali Shaukat and Kher Singh were on the sick list and Chand himself was ill. However, even with a skeletal side, India managed to defeat the hosts 3-0 (with Singh scoring 2), and the Indian team won its country s first Olympic gold medal. Keeper Richard Allen created a unique record of not conceding a single goal. Chand was the top scorer of the tournament by a large margin, scoring 14 goals in 5 matches. A newspaper report about India s triumph said,
“     This is not a game of hockey, but magic. Dhyan Chand is in fact the magician of hockey.     ”

On returning to India, the team was received by thousands of people at the Bombay harbour, compared to the three people who had seen them off.1932 Los Angeles Summer Olympics and toursPosted in Waziristan in the North-West Frontier Province (now in Pakistan) with his new 2/14 Punjab Regiment, Chand was cut off from the IHF, which was by now controlled by civilians. The Inter-Provincial Tournament was being held to select the new Olympic team; the IHF wrote to the Army Sports Control Board to grant Singh leave to participate in the nationals. His platoon refused. Chand received news that he had been selected by the IHF for the Olympic team without any formalities. The rest of his teammates however, had to prove their skills in the Inter-Provincial Tournament, which was won by Punjab. As such, seven players from Punjab were selected for the Olympic team. Apart from Chand, Broome Eric Pinnigar, Leslie Hammond and Richard Allen were the other 1928 Olympians retained in the team. Chand s brother Roop Singh was also included in the squad as a left-in. Lal Shah Bokhari was selected as captain.The Olympic team then played practice matches in India before heading for Colombo. In two matches in Ceylon, the Olympic team beat the 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 India team set sail for San Francisco on May 30, and arrived on June 6. They reached Los Angeles three weeks before the opening ceremony of the Olympics, which took place on July 30. On August 4, 1932, India played its first match against Japan and won 11-1. Chand, Roop Singh, Gurmit Singh each scored thrice, and Dickie Carr once. In the final on August 11, India played against hosts USA. India won 24-1, a world record at that time, and once again clinched the gold medal. Chand scored 8 times, Roop Singh 10, Gurmit Singh 5 and Pinniger once. In fact, Chand along with his brother Roop, scored 25 out of the 35 goals scored by India. This led to them being dubbed the hockey twins .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 team then embarked on a tour of the United States. They played a match on August 20 against a United States XI, almost the same team that they had faced in Los Angeles. Even after loaning its second keeper Arthur Hind, for a half, the team won 20-1.

After setting sail from New York, the team arrived at England.The then embarked on a hectic tour, playing nine matches in various countries in a fortnight, commencing on September 2. They played four internationals-against Holland, Germany, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. The team then reached Ceylon and India, playing a number of matches to pay for their expenses. At the end of the tour, India had played 37 matches, winning 34, drawing 2, with one abandoned. Chand scored 133 of the 338 Indian goals.

East African tour and final tournaments

After returning from Berlin, Chand joined his regiment. Between 1936 and the commencement of the War in 1939, he largely confined himself to army hockey, with one visit to Kolkata to take part in the Beighton Cup tournament in 1937. After the Beighton Cup, Chand spent four months in a military camp in Pachmarhi to attend military classes. Later, he was promoted to Lieutenant.Towards the closing phases of the war, Chand led an army hockey team which toured around the battlefields in Manipur, Burma, the Far East and Ceylon. When the war ended in 1945, Chand decided that the Indian hockey team needed new young players. In 1947, the IHF was requested by the Asian Sports Association (ASA) of East Africa to send a team to play a series of matches. Unusually, the ASA made a condition that Chand should be included in the team. Once again, Chand was chosen as captain.The team assembled in Bombay on November 23, 1947, and played one match against a Bombay team. They were defeated 2-1. Remembering that Bombay had defeated even an Olympic team, they were not too unhappy and set sail for East Africa on December 6. The team reached Mombasa on December 15 and played 9matches in British East Africa winning all. Chand, though now in his forties, still managed to score 61 goals in 22 matches.After returning from the East African tour in early 1948, Chand decided to gradually phase out his involvement in serious hockey . He played exhibition matches, leading a Rest of India side against state teams and the 1948 Olympic team which defeated Chand s side 2-1, even though an aging Chand scored his side s lone goal. Chand s last match was leading the Rest of India team against the Bengal side. The match ended in a draw after which the Bengal Hockey Association organized a public function to honor Chand s services to Indian hockey.


Last days

In 1951, Captain Dhyan Chand was honored at the National Stadium—with Dhyan Chand tournament. Satinder Mullick remembers that Dhyan Chand took him and children of Capt. Kashmira Lal, Sports secretary of Army Hockey Federation. Dhyan Chand was staying in Jodhpur Mess. He was admired by all at the National Stadium. In 1956, at the age of 51, he retired from the army with the rank of Major. The Government of India honored him the same year by conferring him the Padma Bhushan (India s third highest civilian honour). After retirement, he taught at coaching camps at Mount Abu, Rajasthan. Later, he accepted the position of Chief Hockey Coach at the National Institute of Sports, Patiala, a post he held for several years. Chand spent his last days in his hometown of Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh, India.Dhyan Chand died on December 3, 1979 at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi.He was cremated at the Jhansi Heroes ground in his hometown, after some initial problems in getting clearance. His regiment, the Punjab Regiment, accorded him full military honours.


Legacy

Even today, Dhyan Chand remains a legendary figure in Indian and world hockey. His astounding skills have been glorified in various apocryphal stories and anecdotes. A number of such legends revolve around the fact that Singh had a magical control over dribbling the ball.August 29, Chand s birthday, is celebrated as 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, India.India s highest award for lifetime achievement in sports is the Dhyan Chand Award which has been awarded annually from 2002 to sporting figures who not only contribute through their performance but also contribute to the sport after their retirement. The National Stadium, Delhi was renamed Dhyan Chand National Stadium in 2002 in his honour.

He scored over 1000 goals in his career, from 1926 to 1948.

Astro-turf hockey pitch, at the Indian Gymkhana Club in London has been named after Indian hockey legend Dhyan Chand.


Anecdotes

    Once, while playing a hockey game, Major Dhyan Chand was not able to score a goal against the opposition team. After several misses, he argued with the match referee regarding the measurement of the goal post, and amazingly, it was found to not be in conformation with the official width of a goal post (as prescribed under international rules). 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 seeing his prolific play at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Adolf Hitler offered Dhyan Chand, a Major in the British Indian Army, German citizenship and an offer to promote him to the rank of a Colonel (which Dhyan Chand refused).In Holland, the authorities broke his hockey stick to check if there was a magnet inside.

    On one occasion, a lady from the audience asked Dhyan Chand to play with her walking stick instead. He scored goals even with them!Cricket world s legend Don Bradman and Hockey s greatest player 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"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.A tube station has been named after him in London, along with 358 other past and present Olympic heroes,in the run-up to the Games, starting on July 27,2012. The Transport for London has brought out a special Olympic Legends Map , detailing all 361 tube stations. Only six stops have been named after hockey players, with the three Indians - Dhyan Chand, Roop Singh and Leslie Claudius - cornering the majority.

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