I’ve fond recollections of the 1972 Munich Olympics. We were practising at 10 in the morning when I saw three-four cars, comprising Germans, advancing towards us.
They enquired of our coach KD Singh Babu if I was around. They approached me and asked, “Are you the son of the great Dhyan Chand?” They had heard stories about my father’s feat in the 1936 Olympics, when he stupefied Hitler (Adolf) with his skills. They said my father had left an indelible impression in the country, even though 36 years had passed by.
I cherish some on-field memories of Munich too. We had secured a healthy lead against Mexico. At half-time, our coach Babu was livid with my game and gave me an earful. He said I messing up the moves; I thought he wouldn’t play me in the second half. I broke down and was inconsolable. Our captain Harmeek Singh wondered what was going on. I promised our coach better show. I was charged up and scored a superb goal. I’ve to say I exceeded my own expectations. When we returned, I saw a beaming Babu sahab waiting for me. He gave me 25 German Deutschmark and said, “Go and buy and tie for your father.” That was his token of appreciation.
But I don’t want to be reminded of the semi-final against Pakistan. The tension in the aftermath of the 1971 war was quite palpable. We failed to cash in on the 17 corners. I botched up, what should have been, an easy goal. I merely had to clear the goalkeeper but ended up scooping the ball over the bar. Had I converted, the result would have been different. Till this day, that lapse haunts me.
Ashok Kumar is son of the illustrious Dhyan Chand. He was a member of the Indian team that won the 1975 World Cup. He bagged the Arjuna Award in 1974.
He spoke to Deba Prasad Dhar