National game of India, Hockey is no longer the longing of the Indians. That period is long gone with a legend. Post independence saw the rising of a new star that glowed and still gleams for his extraordinary play. Dhanraj Pillay born on 16th July 1969 in Pune, but India was not aware of the fame she was to get in the name of Dhanraj Pillay. He is one of the most renowned field hockey player and former captain of the Indian hockey team. With his play the national game, hockey saw a golden era of its popularity which never came back. His training started with a broken stick and discarded hockey balls by imitating the style of legendary forward and idol, MOHAMMED SHAHID. Dhanraj gives all the credit of his success to his mother as she encouraged him and his four brothers to play hockey and single handedly managed the house.
In the Mid 80s Dhanraj moved to Mumbai where under the training of his brother, Ramesh he developed as a potent, speedy striker. He then moved to MAHINDRA & MAHINDRA where he was tutored by the then Indian coach, Joaquim Carvalho. He debuted in international hockey in 1989 in the Allwyn cup in New Delhi. His career span started from December 1989 till August 2004. He played 399 international games and scored about 177 goals in his career. The accurate number of goals is not available because the Indian Hockey federation did not keep an official record.
Dhanraj Pillay was the only player to have played 4 OLYMPICS, 4 WORLD CUPS, 4 CHAMPIONS TROPHIES and 4 ASIAN GAMES in the time span of the year 1990-2004. Dhanraj Pillay got the highest sporting honor RAJIV GANDHI KHEL RATNA, PADMA SHRI, and was also awarded the player of the tournament in 2000 CHAMPIONS TROPHY (Germany).
To this famous figure, he had his own share of controversies which I would say is quite justified for a sportsman. Outburst for nonpayment of match fees and his protest for low team stipend on tours just before Pakistan series in 1998 were the controversies in which Dhanraj was involved. On the Khel Ratna award he said, “The award will help erase some bitter memories”.
Currently he is the manager of Indian Hockey Team. He is also the member of the Adhoc Committee of Indian Hockey Federation.
After tracking his career for 3 years, journalist Sundeep Misra wrote a biography on Dhanraj Pillay named “Forgive me Amma”, which is one of the greatest achievements for any sportsmen.
It is like an era had gone with the retirement of Dhanraj Pillay and one can only hope the return of such an idol to see the same old popularity of hockey.