(This article was first published on 29 August 2016 and has been reposted from The Quint’s archives to mark Dhyan Chand’s birth anniversary.)
Between the years 1928 to 1936 – India was still a British colony, but it had left a bold and permanent mark on the landscape of field hockey. The reason behind it was Major Dhyan Chand who is alspo known as “The Wizard”.
Dhyan Chand was part of the hockey team that represented India for the first time in an Olympic Games in 1928 and what a debut it was! India won all five matches in the tournament, bagging the gold and Dhyan Chand scored 14 goals in as many matches.
A news report after the Olympics read:
This is not hockey, this is magic
Needless to say, Dhyan Chand was picked again for the team that represented India in the 1932 Olympics and he started from where he had left. In the final of 1932 field hockey in their own backyard, USA was humiliated 24-1 by India. Dhyan Chand led the rout and scored 14 goals while his brother Roop Singh scored 10.
Dhyan Chand vs Hitler’s Germany
Despite all the accolades, Dhyan Chand’s greatest challenge came when he was asked to lead the team for 1936 Berlin Olympics. The centre forward had to face the German team which was famous for its stubborn defense.
But the legend passed the test with flying colours as India beat Germany 8-1. Some reports claim that Adolf Hitler himself was present for the match but he left before the match was over as he could not bear the crushing defeat of his team.
The next day, Hitler invited Dhyan Chand and offered him the post of Field Marshal in the German army. Dhyan Chand at that time was a Lance Naik in the British Indian army. He stood in silence for a few seconds and then responded in broken English that he would prefer to stay in India.
Dhyan Chand is one of the most revered sports personalities in Indian history. Throughout his career, the centre forward scored more than 400 international goals.
Video editor: Sashant Kumar