Field hockey has a long history, with records indicating that the game was played since the Middle Ages in countries like England, Scotland, France and the Netherlands. As of now, field hockey is a popular sport among various Western Europe countries, the Indian subcontinent, Asian countries, parts of United States, Southern African countries, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, etc. Over the years, the sport of field hockey has produced various legends that have been instrumental in making the game popular all across the globe. These hockey legends are known for their extraordinary skills and they hold various records. Here are the top 10 field hockey legends of all times that every hockey fan should know.
Dhyan Chand: Stories of this legend are no less than the stories of superheroes. Dhyan Chand had such magnificent hockey skills, especially his control over the ball that he was referred to as “The Wizard”. He had scored more than 400 goals in hockey, making him the highest goal scorer in the history of field hockey. It was due to his immense skills that India won three Olympic gold medals in field hockey in 1928, 1932, and 1936. He was the one person to have single-handedly made hockey a widely popular sport in India. Owing to his contributions to the sport of hockey, Dhyan Chand was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1956. The National Sports Day in India is also celebrated every year on August 29, which is the birthday of the legendary Dhyan Chand.
Sohail Abbas: This hockey legend is from Pakistan, who has served as the captain of the Pakistan Hockey Team. Sohail Abbas has many notable achievements to his credit and one of the most prominent is his high goal tally. Till date, he has scored more than 340 goals, which makes him the second highest goal scorer in the history of field hockey. Sohail was born in Karachi in Pakistan and comes from a family with sporting background. His father was a first-class cricketer, but as destiny would have it, Sohail went on to become a legend in field hockey. Sohail Abbas holds various records such as scoring 60 goals in 1999, making him the highest goal scorer in a given calendar year.
Ric Charlesworth: He is a multi-faceted personality, who has taken up various distinct roles during his lifetime such as that of a hockey player, cricket player, politician, sports consultant and sports coach. He had represented Western Australia in cricket and had also played international field hockey for the Kookaburras, which is the Australian national team. He had led his team to victory by winning the Silver Medal at the 1976 Summer Olympics. His contributions as a Hockey coach are also noteworthy, as he had led Australia to win Olympic Bronze medals in 1996 and 2000.
Hassan Sardar: This is another great hockey player from Pakistan, who had also served as the captain of the Pakistan hockey team. It was under his captaincy that Pakistan won the gold medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California. Hassan Sardar was born in Karachi and he played his first World Hockey Cup in 1982, which was organized in Mumbai, India. He is regarded as one of the best center forward to have emerged in the history of Pakistan hockey. In the 1982 World Hockey Cup, he scored 11 goals and was given the title of ‘Man of the Tournament’.
Shahbaz Ahmed: He is regarded as the Maradona of Hockey, as he had led his team to victory at various tournaments such as the Olympics, Hockey World Cup, Asia Cup, Asian Games, BMW trophy and Champions Trophy. Born in Faisalabad in Pakistan, Shahbaz has also played for leading Dutch and German clubs. He had received the ‘Player of the Tournament’ award in two consecutive Hockey World Cups, in the 1990 World Cup in Lahore, and at the 1994 World Cup in Sydney.
Dhanraj Pillay: He represented the Indian Hockey team in four Olympic Games, World Cups and Champions Trophies. He had scored more than 170 goals in his 15 years of hockey career. Dhanraj Pillay started playing hockey at a young age and at that time, he had to manage with hand-made hockey sticks and discarded hockey balls. He made his international debut in 1989, when he represented India at the Allwyn Asia Cup in New Delhi. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 2000 for his contributions to the game of hockey.
Mohammed Shahid: Born in Varanasi, Mohammed Shahid is considered as one of the best hockey players ever. He was often compared to the legendary Dhyan Chand, as his dribbling skills and his control over the ball were quite good. He had contributed to the game that had helped India win the gold medal at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow. He was also part of the team that had won the Silver Medal at the 1982 Asian Games and bronze at the 1986 Asian Games. He had received the Arjuna Award in 1981 and Padma Shri in 1986.
Jamie Dwyer: He has represented Australia in more than 350 hockey matches and has scored more than 220 goals. He was part of the team that won the gold medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics and bronze medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics and 2012 Summer Olympics. His other achievements include gold medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games and 2010 Men’s Hockey World Cup and Silver medal at the 2002 Men’s Hockey World Cup and the 2006 Men’s Hockey World Cup. Jamie Dwyer has received various awards & recognition such as the IHF World Player of the Year in 2004 and 2007; International field hockey player of the year in 2011; and listed in the World All-Star Team in 2011.
Teun de Nooijer: This great hockey player from the Netherlands has contributed in helping his team to become Olympic champions in 1996 and 2000. He was also part of the Dutch hockey team that won the Silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympic and 2012 London Olympic. Teun de Nooijer has represented his country in more than 300 international hockey matches. He has also played in the Hockey India League, representing the Uttar Pradesh Wizards.
Ties Kruize: This Dutch hockey player is regarded as one of the best penalty corner specialists. He has played more than 200 games for his country and scored a total of 167 goals. He was born in The Hague in Netherlands and comes from a family with sporting background. His father was also a Dutch hockey player. Kruize had contributed to his team, winning the Gold medal at the Amstelveen Hockey World Cup in 1973 and Silver medal at the 1978 Buenos Aires Hockey World Cup.