Major Dhyan Chand’s Birthday – Remembering Field Hockey’s Greatest Player

By IST (Released)


Dhyan Chand joined the British Indian Army when he was just 16 years old. During his international career, Dhyan Chand scored over 400 goals.

In a few years it will be a century since Major Dhyan Chand’s first international hockey game which he played in 1926 and yet there has been no Indian hockey player with a better field record in all those years . This goes on to show the legend who Major Dhyan Chand was.

Born into an army family on August 29, 1905, in present-day Prayagraj (Uttar Pradesh), Dhyan Chand grew up to be an army man like his father and older brother. After joining the British Indian Army at the age of 16 in 1922, Dhyan

Chand started playing hockey under the supervision of Subedar Major Tiwari, who was a sports fan himself.

Considering his “outstanding performance on the field”, Dhyan Chand was quickly named Lance Naik in 1927. In the same year, he captained the Indian team in an international hockey match. His wonders with the hockey stick and his superb ball control not only allowed him to rise through the ranks – from lieutenant to major – very quickly, but also earned him the title of “hockey magician”.

The hockey legend was originally named Dhyan Singh but he got the nickname ‘Chand’ (moon) as he trained all night in the moonlight after completing his regimental duties.

During his international career, between 1926 and 1948, Dhyan Chand scored over 400 goals. In his entire career, his goal tally crossed the 1,000 mark. Under his leadership, India won three successive gold medals at the Summer Olympics in 1928, 1932 and 1936.

His performance in the 1936 Berlin Olympics final is considered one of the greatest hockey performances of all time. He scored three goals in the game which helped India win the match against Germany by 8-1.

In 1952, Chand launched his autobiography Objective!. Later, in 1956, he retired from the army and was awarded the Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest civilian honour. After his retirement, he taught in training camps in Mount Abu, Rajasthan.

Later, he also coached India’s hockey. Dhyan Chand died on December 3, 1979 in Delhi after falling into a coma. In tribute to him, the Indian government renamed the National Stadium in Delhi the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium.

Catherine J. Martinez