Major Dhyan Chand – arguably the greatest hockey player and one of the finest sportsperson that India has ever produced – had won many accolades for the country during his playing days. August 29 is observed as the ‘National Sports Day’ in remembrance of the legend of Indian sports. ‘The Wizard’ Major Dhyan Chand was considered as the 'Messiah' on the hockey field as he used to cut open oppositions’ defences single-handedly. Dhyan Chand remains as the top of the crop due to his unmatchable skills and leadership quality.
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The President of India usually distributes honourable awards such as the Arjuna awards, Dronacharya awards and the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna on the occasion of Dhyan Chand’s birth anniversary. However, this year the award ceremony has been postponed to 25 September due to the ongoing 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang.
Let us take a look at some lesser known facts about the hockey wizard Major Dhyan Chand:
- Dhyan Chand joined the British Indian army at the age of 16 and took up hockey while he was a sepoy for the army.
- As he used to practice under moonlight, he was given the name Dhyan Chand (Chand in Hindi means moon). His real name was Dhyan Singh.
- Adolf Hitler was extremely impressed by Dhyan Chand’s talent with the hockey stick and even offered him German citizenship and the rank of Colonel in the Nazi army.
- According to reports, match officials once broke Dhyan Chand’s hockey stick to check if there was any magnet inside it. Such was the level of his incredible skills.
- Major Dhyan Chand was one of the key figures to help India win three Olympic gold medals in 1928, 1932 and 1936.
- Major Dhyan Chand’s son Ashok Dhyan Chand represented India in hockey and was the scorer of a deciding goal in the 1975 Kuala Lumpur Hockey World Cup against Pakistan to win the Gold Medal.
- Indian government warder Dhyan Chand with Padma Bhushan in 1956 and his birth anniversary on 29 August is celebrated as the National Sports Day across the country.