Major Dhyan Chand | The ‘Wizard’ of Hockey

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His Life: India’s Hockey Legend

  • Year 1905 – Born in Delhi.
  • Year 1922 – Was selected in the Indian Army team of Hockey.
  • Year 1925 – Inter- provincial tournament was held and the Indian National Field Hockey Team was selected to take part in it.
  • Year 1932 – India participated in the Los Angeles Olympics.
  • Year 1933 – The team won the Beighton Cup.
  • Year 1952 – Autobiography “Goal!” was published.
  • Year 1979 – Left the mortal world.

When I die, India will not shed a tear for me. 

Dhyan Chand was perhaps the greatest hockey player of all time who made waves in the history by winning three Olympic Gold medals in the field hockey. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian award by the Government of India. His birthday is celebrated nationwide as the National Sports Day every year.

Personal Life

Dhyan Chand was born as Dhyan Singh on August 29, 1905 in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh to Sameshwar Dutt Singh and Sharadha Singh. His father was a Subedar in the British Indian Army, thus the family had to keep moving to different cities because of the frequent transfers of his father. Due to the continuous shift of residences, Chand’s education was limited to 6th std. His elder brother Mool Singh became a Hawaldar in the army. The family later settled in Jhansi.

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Young Chand had no serious inclination towards sports, but he loved wrestling as boys of his age had a passion for wrestling at that time. As Chand’s interest towards hockey increased, he made sticks with Bamboo tree and the balls rolled up with old rags.

Once Chand accompanied his father to the camp where English soldiers were playing. He made a lasting impression on English soldiers when he scored four goals while playing with them. Thus he was recruited into the ‘Children’s Platoon’. At the age of 16, Chand joined the army as a Sepoy in Delhi’s First Battalion. He married Janaki Devi in 1936 and she gave birth to seven sons.

In the 1936 Berlin Olympics, the Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler after watching his splendid gameplay offered him a position in the German Army as a Field Marshal which Chand politely refused.

Sporty Journey in Hockey

Chand’s highlight stays with his three Olympic gold medals (1928, 1932 and 1936) in field hockey, when India was just putting its baby steps into the sport. In 1926, his greatest turn in life was his involvement in India’s tour to New Zealand in connection with hockey. His dribbling skills were astonishing to the world of hockey. In the 1928 Olympics conducted in Amsterdam, he gave his best efforts in the finals against the home team Netherlands, which was indeed worth every drop of sweat as it won India its first Olympic Gold medal.

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Dhyan Chand, who is famous as The Wizard due his wonderful control over the ball was able to make India proud again with a gold medal in the 1932 Olympics conducted in Los Angles. India won the finals with a world record of 24-1 score after defeating the U.S.A home team. In the 1936 Berlin Olympics, he emerged as the captain of the Indian Hockey Team. The team who was nervous about its finals with Germany had an easy victory with a score of 8:1.

After the Berlin Olympics, Chand attended military camps at Pachmarhi in order to attend military classes. He was later promoted to Lieutenant. With the request of Indian Hockey Federation, Chand was again made the captain by the Asian Sports Association to play a series of matches. By 1948 Chand started to reduce his involvement in hockey to exhibition matches where his contributions were exceptional. Few of his exceptionally played games are mentioned below:

Year Games played
1928Olympic Games (Amsterdam)
1932Olympic Games (Los Angeles)
1936 Olympic Games (Berlin)
1948Olympic Games

Awards and Recognitions:

His legendary contribution to his team includes three Olympic gold medals in field hockey in 1928, 1932 and 1936. He had scored overall of more than 1,000 goals in his career out of which 400 were international ones. The Government of India honored him with Padma Bhushan in 1956, the third highest civilian award of India. Few of all his awards are listed below:

Award/Honour Year Work
Gold Medal 1928Olympic Games (Amsterdam)
Gold Medal 1932 Olympic Games (Los Angeles)
Gold Medal 1936Olympic Games (Berlin)
Padma Bhushan 1956-
Dhayn Chand Stamp1980-

Later Life:

In 1956, Dhyan Chand retired from the army as a Major and started to conduct coaching camps for new sports players. He accepted the position of Chief Hockey Coach at the National Institute of Sports, Patiala.

He spent his last days in agony as he was going broke and was being forgotten by everyone. He suffered from liver cancer and his poor financial conditions didn’t allow him to get desired medical treatment. On December 3, 1979 The Magician of hockey departed this mortal world. He was cremated in the Jhansi Heroes ground in his hometown.

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