The Man with Four Hands

Posted by on Nov-8-2009

The ­clues first…

He is considered as world’s greatest player ever to play the game.

His country conferred upon him the third highest civilian honour.

A foreign country honoured him by setting up a statue of him with four hands, which epitomized his wizardry over the game.

Adolf Hitler was very much impressed by his performance that purportedly offered him the post of Field Marshal in the German army, so that he will play at Germany’s side.

No idea yet? Read on…

I believe that there is music in sports. We have heard it from Sachin Tendulkar’s willow. Diego Maradona conducted symphony with his legs. His constant thumping of the ball on the ground made Magic Johnson a good drummer. Viswanathan Anand meditated on intricate Ragas with sixty four squares and with an ensemble of 16 people.

The man I’m talking about was their predecessor.

His name is Dhyan ‘Chand’ Sing (1905-1979) and he played his country’s national game – Hocky.

Dhyan Chand was born to in Uttar Pradesh    During his days in the Army, Subedar Major Tiwari – noticed his mastery over the game, his dribbling skills and knack for scoring goals. Major Tiwari taught him the basics of the game. His coach Pankaj Gupta prophetically called him Chand, which means ‘Moon’ in Hindi, saying that he will shine in the field like a moon one day.

In 1926 Dhyan Chand was selected for the Indian Army Hockey team going for a New Zealand tour. The Indian team scored 20 goals in a match played at Dannkerke, and Dhyan Chand’s contribution was 10 goals. In the 21 matches on the tour- out of which India won 18, lost 1 and drew 2- the team scored 192 goals and Dhyan Chand alone had scored over 100 of them. After his return to India he was promoted to the post of Lance Nayak in the Army. At the London Folkstone Festival in 1927, he scored 36 goals out of India’s total 72 goals, in 10 matches played at the event.

In 1928  Dyan Chand was selected to the Summer Olympics team. Chand helped India to win the gold medal by beating the host team Netherlands for 3-0, by playing in the centre-forward position. 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.”

In the 1932 Summer Olympics held at Los Angeles Indian retained the title. The team expelled the United States hockey team by 23-1, which was a world record until 2003. In that year he had scored 133 goals out of India`s 338 goals.

Dhyan Chand scored 201 out of the teams’s 584 in 43 matches during a 1935 tour of New Zealand and Australia.  He met the legendary batsman Don Bradman at Adelaide. This was Don Bradman’s comment on Dhyan Chand after watching the match –“He scores goals like runs in cricket”.

Dhyan Chand was the captain of the team for the 1936 Summer Olympics. In the final against Germany , India was leading  1-0 till half-time. The ground was wet. Although his teammates and opposition were wearing spiked shoes Chand removed his shoes and played barefoot. India scored seven goals in the second half. The Germans resorted to foul play and Dhyan Chand broke one of his teeth in an accident with the German goalkeeper, but was soon back to the field. India won the match 8-1, Dhyan Chand scored 3 goals.

A news paper described 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.”

Adolf Hitler supposedly offered Dhyan Chand the position of Field Marshal in the German army, which he politely declined.

Dhyan Chand continued to play till the age 42, even after World War II. In 3 Olympic tournaments, Chand had scored 33 goals in 12 matches. In 1948 he retired from the game. In 1956 he retired from the army with the Rank of Major. Indian Govt. conferred upon him the Padma Bhushan.

The residents of Vienna, Austria, honored him by erecting a statue of him with four hands and four sticks. His statues can be found near the National Stadium, New Delhi, in Jhansi, his home town and at Medak, Andhra Pradesh.

But the Nation ignored him in his last days. He was short of money and receive a meager pension. He developed cancer and was sent to a general ward at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi. He died on the 3rd of December 1979.

Dhyan Chand was very sad to see India at the Montreal Olympics, 1976 where they finished seventh. According to reports on his death bed he told a doctor that ‘Indian hockey is dying’.

His birthday, 29 August, is celebrated in India as the National Sports Day. The President of India gives away awards related to sports – like arjuna Award and Dronacharya Award- on that day. The Govt. also established Dhyan Chand Award which is confronted each year to the sportspersons who not only bestow a quality through their performance but also encourage to the sport after their retirement.

Dhyan Chand was a legend in his own life time. He was named ‘the Wizard of Hockey’. He maintained complete control over the ball, in the field it looked like ball is glued on to his stick. Once the officials in Tokyo broke his hockey stick searching for a magnet inside.

After the patrician of India, Dhyan Chand was at the Lahore Railway Station waiting for his train to Peshawar. To catch a glimpse of the wizard thousands of his Pakistani fans rushed to the station. Krishan Kumar Kakar, one of the members of the Indian team recollected- “Such was the scene on all stations right up to Peshawar where the train reached more than four hours behind the schedule.”

The classic style of hockey is lost in oblivion. Now they play to win. Dhyan Chand belonged to an era when winning was not everything and the success lied in the beauty of the game you played.

The roars of the crowds in those stadiums have subsided in the pages of history. But the legend lives on.

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