12 amazing facts about hockey legend Major Dhyan Chand
It’s a well-known fact that National Sports Day on August 29 is celebrated in the country to mark the birth anniversary of hockey legend Major Dhyan Chand. During his more than two-decade long career, he scored over 400 goals and won gold medals for the country in three consecutive Olympics – 1928, 1932 and 1936. But that’s not the only reason why he is regarded as the greatest sportsperson ever born in the country. Read below to know some interesting facts about the legend:
- Dhyan Chand’s original name was Dhyan Singh. He was given the nickname ‘Chand’ by his fellow players because he used to practice hockey at night under the moonlight. ‘Chand’ means moon in Hindi.
- Dhyan Chand loved wrestling when he was young and had no serious interest in hockey. In fact, he is stated to have said that he doesn’t remember having played any hockey ‘worth mentioning’ before he joined the Army at the age of 16.
- At the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, he scored 14 goals and was a lead goal-scorer. Post the Olympics, newspapers described him as “the magician of hockey.”
- So impressed was German dictator Adolf Hitler with his performance after India’s win at the 1936 Berlin Olympics that he is said to have offered Chand German citizenship and a position in the German military. But Chand politely declined the offer.
- Dhyan Chand’s younger brother, Roop Singh, was also a hockey player. The two were called the ‘hockey twins’. In the 1932 Summer Olympics, the duo scored 25 goals out of the 35 goals India scored against the opponents (Chand had 12 goals to his credit while Singh netted 13).
- Netherlands hockey authorities is believed to have broken Chand’s hockey stick to check whether there was a magnet inside it or not.
- It’s said that in one of his matches, Chand was unable to score even a single goal. This led to an argument between him and the match referee about the measurement of the goal post. When the goal post was measured, to everybody’s surprise, Chand was right. The goal post was found to be in violation of the official minimum width prescribed under international rules.
- His Olympic career was cut short by the advent of World War II.
- In 1972, the International Olympic Committee is reported to have sent him a special invitation to witness the Munich Olympics.
- Government issued a commemorative postal stamp in his memory on December 3, 1980. He remains the only Indian hockey player to have a stamp in his honour.
- During his last years, Chand was disappointed by the state of Indian hockey. It is reported that when someone asked him about the future of hockey in India, he replied, “Hockey in India is finished.”
- Despite his achievements, he has still not been awarded the country’s highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna.