Former Indian hockey team captain Dhanraj Pillay has received the East Bengal’s highest honour Bharat Gaurav on their 98th Foundation Day yesterday and had remarked about Dhyan Chand which has become a controversy.
“I hope he (Dhyan Chand) is awarded the Bharat Ratna as soon as possible. He was not only a great player, he was a hockey magician. There would have been no controversy had he been given the award by now,” Pillay said
“East Bengal fought till the end, which was also in my DNA. I followed the likes of Bhaichung Bhutia, Chima Okorie…I met Bhaichung in Malaysia when he was playing at club level,” he added, Crediting his skills with that of East Bengal where he had learned the tactics.
“This feels like Bharat Ratna to me. I am overwhelmed that the club has considered me worthy of this award,” he added. “I feel honoured that a club, known for its football, gave this recognition to a hockey player. But we should also remember that East Bengal had a good record in hockey in the 1970s and 1980s.”
“Leslie Claudius is an idol to me and I am really proud that I am getting the award which Claudius got earlier. I can’t compare myself with him. He was a genius. Claudius helped me a lot during my playing days. When I was out of form he gave me a lot of tips which helped. He was just like a mentor”, Pillay added.
Referring to next year’s World Cup, Pillay said “We have to be consistent in all five matches and can’t afford to lose points. In the Hockey World League, we beat Pakistan but lost to Canada and Malaysia. We tend to concede goals in closing stages.”