Dhyan Chand ( 29 August 1905 – 3 December 1979) was an Indian field hockey player, who is widely considered as the greatest field hockey player of all time.
Chand is most remembered for his extraordinary goal-scoring feats, in addition to earning three Olympic gold medals (1928, 1932, and 1936) in field hockey, during an era where India was the most dominant team in Hockey.
He was the elder brother of another player Roop Singh.
His father Sameshwar Dutt Singh was in the British Indian Army, and he played hockey in the army.
Dhyan Chand had two brothers – Mool Singh, and Roop Singh. Because of Sameshwar Dutt’s numerous army transfers, the family had to move to different cities and as such Chand had to terminate his education after only six years of schooling.
The family finally settled in Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh, India.
Chand joined the Indian Army at the age of 16. The Hindi word Chand literally means the moon.
Since Dhyan Singh used to practice a lot during the night after his duty hours, he used to wait for the moon to come out so that the visibility in the field (during his era there were no flood lights) improved.
He was hence called “Chand”, by his fellow players, as his practice sessions at night invariably coincided with the coming out of the moon.
The Olympic team then played a match against the Bombay XI, and amazingly lost 3-2, even though Singh scored both his team’s goals.
With a quiet send-off, the team left for England on 10 March, to play 11 matches against local sides as well in the Folkestone Festival, winning all.
It was also said that the Great Britain did not send a team in 1928 Amsterdam olympics after their national team was defeated by the Indian team at Folkestone.
This is best cited in Kapur’s book “Romance of Hockey” where a despatch of H. Sutherland Stark, London representative of “Sports”, a magazine of Lahore, tells the story better than any other comment : “For reasons it is difficult to understand the English Hockey Association have taken up a very stiff attitude towards Indian Hockey in recent years and have repeatedly been twitted about it by even their own supporters.
The Editor of a leading sports newspaper described them to me as an intensely conservative body, but there seems to be something more than conservative behind their unwillingness apparently ever to meet India ina full international encounter” Finally, on 24 April, the team arrived in Amsterdam to embark on a tour of the Low Countries.
In all the pre-Olympic matches against local Dutch, German and Belgian teams, the Indian team won by large margins.
For the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, Dhyan Chand was automatically selected to the Indian hockey team while the rest of the team mates had to play in the Inter-Provincial tournament to earn their places.
His brother Roop Singh also secured a place in the team.
After the Olympics the team went on an international tour covering United States, England and several other countries. By the end of the tour, India had won 34 matches out of 37 with Chand scoring 133 of the 338 goals scored by India.