Major Dhyan Chand (29 August 1905 – 3 December 1979) was undoubtedly one of the best sportsman ever to have graced the game of Field Hockey. For his superb ball control and extraordinary goal scoring feat he was nicknamed as “The Wizard” or “The Magician” of hockey.
Over his sporting career Major Dhyan Chand had scored more than 1,000 goals out of which 570 goals were international ones in 185 matches. He was part of the Indian hockey teams that won three Olympic gold medals in field hockey. In 1928 where he emerged as the hero of the 1928 Olympics by scoring 14 goals in five matches,1932 Los Angeles Olympics and he led the team to the 1936 Berlin Olympics to win India’s third successive gold in field hockey.
It is believed that after India defeated Germany in the 1936 Olympics final 8–1, Adolf Hitler expressed his desire to meet Dhyan Chand. Hitler offered him a senior post in the German Army, to which Chand refused.
The epic conversation between Adolf Hitler and Dhyan Chand :
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: "India is my country and I am fine there."
Hitler: "As you like it."
Chand continued playing hockey till the late 1940’s and retired from army as a Major in 1956. He became a coach after his retirement.
He was honored with the Padma Bhushan, India's third highest civilian award in 1956 for his contributions to the field of sports. The birthday of this great hockey legend, 29 August, is celebrated as National Sports Day in India.
India’s highest award for lifetime achievement in sports, The Dhyan Chand Award, is named after him. On his birthday, the President gives away sport-related awards such as the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, Arjuna Award and Dronacharya Award at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.