Now we’re accustomed to seeing slick passing and quick movement on the well-watered astro turfs in hockey. But in the ’70s and ’80s, the mantra for scintillating hockey revolved around exceptional dribbling skills and the movement to go along with it. And Mohammed Shahid was an epitome example of that – on the grassy and muddy fields no less.
Shahid made his debut in 1979 for the Indian junior side in the Junior Hockey World Cup in France and the same year progressed to the senior side and made his debut under V Bhaskaran following good performances in the Aga Khan Cup helped by dribbling and striking ability.
Its quite commonly known in sports that there are some things which can be taught by a coach but there are few things that come as a talent from within – Shahid’s wrist work and ability to push the ball forward at quick pace is one of them.
In a golden period for Indian hockey, Shahid was a crucial part of the side that won gold at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow (India’s last hockey medal), silver at the 1982 Asian Games and bronze at the 1986 Asiad.
His combination with Zafar Iqbal became a nightmare for the opposite defences to match up to.
ALSO READ | Hockey legend Mohammed Shahid passes away
In personal laurels, he won the best forward player award at the 1980 Champions Trophy and became captain of the team in 1985 – a post he held for a year.
He then became a sports officer with Indian Railways in Varanasi.
Two decades later, Shahid’s challenge shifted from the hockey pitch to hospitals and he was airlifted from Varanasi to Gurgaon after ignoring a bout of jaundice. His condition continued to deteriorate with weakening liver and kidneys. Sports Ministry and Railways took up control of his medical expenses.
His condition improved at first with former India captain Dhanraj Pillay asking Prime Minister Modi to chip in with support and the government did with medical support of Rs 10 lakh.
But this week, the condition got worse for the legend. His organs started to fail and the 56-year-old slipped into coma on Tuesday night. And on Wednesday morning, his fight ended when he breathed his last.