One man remains the guru of the hockey game, even today – the mercurial Major Dhyan Chand.
His adept stick-work and dexterous ball controlling left many players and opponents awestruck. The legend is virtually synonymous with hockey.
But, did you know about the connection between Adolf Hitler and him?
Event: Berlin Olympics
The Indian team had great players including Ali Dara, Ahmad Khan and Dhyan Chand.
India’s first match was against Germany
And India lost by 4-1. The impact of defeat was huge on Major Dhyan Chand. He couldn’t sleep that night.
In fact, he even mentioned ”As long as I live, I shall never forget this match, or get over the shock of this defeat, which still rankles me.”
The loss against Germany inspired them. Hence, a series of wins followed.
Here are the scores of the consequent matches:
Against Hungary: 4-0
Against USA: 7-0
Against Japan: 9-0
And India reached Semi Finals.
Against France: 10-0
India’s game was so spectacular, as is evident from the scores, that they reached finals, where they had to play against Germany, again.
The Final Match: India versus Germany
1. India’s previous matches had won so many hearts that people from all over Europe turned up to witness the match. Also, the torrential rains had made the pitch waterlogged.
2. There were posters that asked everyone to turn up and witness the performance of Dhyan Chand and his heroic strokes.
3. Dhyan Chand had prepared himself. In fact, he told the other players of his team – We must teach them a lesson in ball control.
4. During the match, Hitler left the stadium halfway through the game as he couldn’t witness Germany losing.
4. Needless to say, India was phenomenal and won the match. The score was 8-1, in which Dhyan Chand scored 3 goals.
You can see this video, which shows the legend in action.
The Aftermath: Hitler meeting Major Dhyan Chand
Hitler expressed his desire to meet Dhyan Chand. When he came to know about this, he was numb with fear as he had heard about Adolf Hitler.
This conversation took place:
Hitler (while casting a glance at the sub-standard canvas shoes of Dhyan Chand): “what else do you do, when not playing hockey ?”
Dhyan Chand: ”I am in the Indian Army.”
Hitler: ”What is your rank?”
Dhyan Chand: ”I am Lance Nayak.”
Hitler: ”Come over to Germany. I will make you a Field Marshal.”
(Dhyan Chand couldn’t understand what happened in a fleeting second. he was confused if this was a command or a request).
Dhyan Chand: ”India is my country and I am fine there.”
Hitler: ”As you like it.”
Did you notice how he politely declined the offer? This just goes on to say that he was an incredible and revered player, but he never compromised on his beliefs and his love for India.