This is a generation, that has been bred on a staple diet of Sachin Tendulkar, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and IPL. History is occupied by the exploits Kapil Dev and Sunil Gavaskar. Far beyond it, there was a legend, who had made the world stand up and admire Indians’ hockey skills and was described as the magician, Dhyan Chand.
His second name was given by his colleagues in the army, as he would practice when the moon would rise. With him in the team the sun smiled on the Indian team as they bagged their first Olympic gold ever and he hasn’t returned without a goal in the three Olympics that he has played.
Even though there have been a few documents, such has been aura that there are so many anecdotes, few of which have been confirmed and few on the borderline of the myth. No other sportsperson has been able to achieve this feat, before or after Dhyan Chand.
More than the Indians, it was the Europeans, who were enthralled by the stick work of Dhyan Chand. They went to the extent of labelling him as an artist. Such was his aura that he was picked up for the 1932 Olympics, despite failing to show up for selection after his regiment did not grant him permission.
But there are two similarities between Dhyan Chand and Sachin Tendulkar. Both started playing for their country, when India were not the superpowers in their respective sports and carried the burden of the nation on their shoulders and seldom did they fail.
Such was his control over the ball that he emerged as the highest goal-scorer in the 1928, 1932 and 1936 Olympics. It was rather sad that the second World War ensured that two Olympics were not held in 1940 and 1944. If they had been held, Dhyan Chand had all the chances of claiming two more gold medals.
Even at the age of 42, Dhyan Chand scored 61 goals in 22 matches in the East African tour, but decided not to play in the 1948 Olympics.
In a game where statistics support the debate of greatest ever, Dhyan Chand achieved more glory and respect than his 400 goals. A statue of Dhyan Chand in Austria has four hands, to show his skills with the stick and a tube was named after him during the London Olympics.
After all he is the only sportsman to have an award named after him. The only respect one can pay him is by making him the first sportsman too be decorated with the highest civilian award. Even though it’s already late.