Hockey is a very famous sport in which two teams play against each other. In this sport, both the teams try to manoeuver a ball or a puck into the opponent’s goal using a hockey stick. There are mainly three types of hockey - bandy, ice hockey, and field hockey. In bandy hockey, players play with a ball on a football pitch-sized ice arena typically outdoors with many rules. The most common and widely played type of hockey is filed hockey which is played on gravel, natural grass, or sand-based or water-based artificial turf. In ice hockey, two teams of skaters play on a large flat area of ice using a 3-inch diameter vulcanized rubber disc called a puck.
India has got a glorious past in Hockey with 11 Olympic medals including 8 gold, 1 silver, and 2 bronze. India is one of the most successful teams in field hockey. When talking about the list of best hockey players, India has produced many top players. Many Indian hockey players have captured the attention of viewers with mazy runs, scintillating stickwork, brilliant defending, and their goalscoring prowess.
Some of the greatest hockey players in India are:
Udham Singh: He is from Jalandhar, Punjab and is one of the finest Indian hockey players. With 5 foot 6 inches height and 58 kgs weight, he has won 3 Olympic gold medals and 1 silver medal. He has taken part in Helsinki (1952), Melbourne (1956) and Tokyo (1964) Olympic gold-winning teams. He has also taken part in Rome Olympics and won the silver in 1960.
Leslie Claudius: He was born in 1927 in Bilaspur, Chattisgarh. He also has won 3 gold and 1 silver medal for India. He is considered the best half-back in the entire history of hockey. In four consecutive Olympics in India, he was the first player to represent the country. He won 100 caps and made a great name in the field of hockey. He was felicitated with the Padma Shri Award in 1971 to celebrate his status as one of the finest to have won the game.
Dhanraj Pillay: The name of Dhanraj Pillay is first on the lips of players who have mesmerized us with intricate stickwork and mazy dribbling although he was not born in the golden generation of Indian hockey. IN December 1989, he made his debut and hung his boots in August 2004. He has represented India in 4 Olympics: 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 4 world cups: 1990, 1994, 1998, and 2002, 4 Asian games: 1990, 1994, 1998, and 2002, and 4 champion trophies 1995, 1996, 2002, and 2003. He became the captain of the Indian hockey team and under his captaincy, India won the 1998 Asian Games and 2003 Asian cup.
Balbir Singh Sr. : He is the only player in Indian history to have recorded 5 goals in an Olympic match. He scored 5 in a 6-1 win against the Netherlands in the final. After winning the top honor in London, Helsinki, and Melbourne, he became the second Indian to win three Olympic gold medals in 1948. His representation returns Indian team silver medals from 1958 and 1962 Asian games. He became the first sportsperson to win Padma Shri award in 1957. Two autobiographies are also written by him: The Golden Hat-trick (1977) and The Golden Yardstick: In Quest of Hockey Excellence (2008).
Dhyan Chand: He was known as ‘ The Wizard’. He is the greatest player to have grace the hockey sport with his brilliant stickwork and ball control. His actual name is not Dhyan Chand. His birth name was Dhyan Singh. His teammates have given this name to him as he used to practice in the night when the moon is visible. He has won three Olympic gold medals for India including Amsterdam 1928, Los Angeles 1932, and Berlin 1936 Olympics. He is the highest goalscorer with over 400 goals in hockey across his career. An extensive research also took place on Dhyan Chand’s hockey stick as it was claimed that he has a magnet in his stick or applied glue on his stick.
Jude Felix Sebastian was appointed coach of the Indian junior men’s hockey team in 2017. Hockey India made this appointment following the team’s successful Europe tour featuring nine players from last year's junior men’s core group. He remains quite excited and hopeful about the good results in the world cup. Coaching has always been his call after his retirement from hockey. His latest assignment is the biggest challenge which he has faced till now. In his hockey career, he was among one of the better half-backs that India has produced through his career was started as an inside forward. He shifted base to Singapore after his retirement to train the national team. It was difficult for him to watch the Indian team performing poorly. After his victory of Junior Hockey World Cup, this is another glorious feather which can be added to the cap of a resurgent Indian hockey. This man has given his all to Hockey. He trained young, budding players the intricacies of this sport. Post the legendary success of Harendra Singh at the FIH Junior Hockey World Cup, Jude Felix took the responsibility of maintaining the dream of Indian hockey teams’ success.
By: Preeti Narula
Posted By - Assistant Editor