Sports Champion

Dhanraj Pillay: Root of Indian hockey

22Dhanraj-Pillay-1Dhanraj Pillay is a field hockey player and former captain of the Indian hockey team. Dhanraj Pillay’s debut in international hockey was in 1989 when he represented the Nation in the Allwyn Asia Cup in New Delhi. Dhanraj Pillay, whose hockey profile spanned from December 1989 to August 2004, played 339 international matches. He scored around 170 goals in his career. He is the only player to have played in four Olympics, four World Cups, four Champions Trophies and four Asian Games. India won the 1998 Asian Games and 2003 Asia Cup under his captaincy. He is the recipient of India’s highest sporting honour, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award for the year 1999-2000. He was awarded the Padma Shri, a civilian award in 2000. He was the winning captain of the victorious Asian Games 2002 hockey team. He was awarded the player of the tournament award in the 2002 Champions trophy held at Cologne, Germany.
Dhanraj Pillay, whose career spanned from December 1989 to August 2004, played 339 international matches. The Indian Hockey Federation did not keep official statistics for the goals scored. There is no credible information on the number of International goals scored by Dhanraj. He scored around 170 goals in his career, according to both him and leading statisticians in the world. He is the only player to have played in four Olympics (1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004), four World Cups (1990, 1994, 1998, and 2002), four Champions Trophies (1995, 1996, 2002, and 2003), and four Asian Games (1990, 1994, 1998, and 2002). India won the Asian Games (1998) and Asia Cup (2003) under his captaincy. He was also the highest goal scorer in the Bangkok Asian Games and was the only Indian player to figure in the World Eleven side during the 1994 World Cup at Sydney.
Dhanraj is often described as mercurial and has had his share of controversies. Time and again, he has vented this ire against the Hockey Management. He was not selected for the Indian team after the triumph at the Bangkok Asiad. The official reason given was that Dhanraj and 6 other senior players were rested. But it was largely seen as a retaliation for his outburst against the management for improper reception and non-payment of match fees. He protested against the low team stipend on overseas tours before the 1998 series against Pakistan. On receipt of the Khel Ratna, Pillay commented, “The award will help erase some bitter memories”.
His plans to start a hockey academy at Mumbai have not taken off fully as Mumbai Hockey Association has refused to allow its astroturf facility to be used for training.
He is the most inspiring Hockey player of our country.

Blog by- Shivangi Jaiswal

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