Dhyan Chand was considered to be the best player ever to grace the hockey field. There are not many players of a sport that do so well they get a statue of them put up in a country that is not their native one. If that was not enough he was even offered a positon with the Germany Army by Adolf Hitler after his performance in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, (which he refused). Given Hitler’s feelings about anyone not white or German this seems quite remarkable but as the triumphant Indian side had just destroyed the Aryan’s finest eight goals to one it might be understandable. In his native country his Birthday is National Sports day and he was award the highest civilian honour that the Government could give him. Who was this incredible man?
Let’s start with the statistics. He was born in what was then British India and played for the India international team for over twenty years. During that time he scored five hundred and seventy goals in one hundred and eighty five matches. That means he scored on average a hat trick in every game he played in! To get that good you might want to consider watching some Hockey Training drills. It is a record that still stands today and it is unlikely to ever be beaten. Chand was the son of army man so he grew up in the country where his father had been given some land for his service. He had watched his Dad play hockey during his military service but he was not moved to take up the sport. In fact, he was more inclined to the sports of wrestling and the traditional sport of Kabaddi. Like his Father he joined the British Army in India and was soon rising through the ranks. He was introduced back to the game and took to it with gusto. He was picked to play for the Indian Army team on a tour of New Zealand. Of the eighteen matches they played they lost only one of them beating the and then only just losing to the New Zealand national side.
Chand had gotten a well-deserved reputation for his ability with a hockey stick in dribbling the ball and controlling it combined with the depth of power he could get with his shots. He was a brilliant forward and the news that the Olympic committee had agreed to include the game again in its list of events was a great chance for India to take the gold. Come the Amsterdam Olympics in 1928 the team were quietly confident. Chand had blazed a trail of glory through the domestic league and it was time to test it on an international setting. They got off a cracking start thrashing Austria six nil Chand scoring his customary hat trick on the teams Olympic debut.
They went on to win three golds in the next three Olympics. Not for nothing was he called “The Wizard”.