Dribbling skills made Shahid one of India’s best

Known for his dribbling skills, Mohammad Shahid caught the imagination of hockey world in the 1980s and was considered one of the most gifted players to have played the game for India.

Hailing from Varanasi, Shahid created a flutter in world hockey in the late 70’s and early 80’s with his mesmerising stick work.

Such was his control over the game that his dazzling play flummoxed his opponents and he had the capacity to break the most formidable defensive line-ups.

On the pitch, Shahid was most feared by opposition teams but off it he was a polite, humble, down-to-earth human being who was ever ready to help his compatriots and juniors.

Born on April 14, 1960 in Varanasi, Shahid burst onto the international stage at the age of 19 in 1979 against France at the Junior World Cup.

However, he came to the limelight in 1980 when he made his debut with the senior side in a four-nation tournament in Kuala Lumpur under the captaincy of Vasudevan Baskaran.

Speed and ability to dribble the ball with wizardry was the hallmark of Shahid’s game, which earned him accolades and fans from across the globe.

Shahid’s attacking partnership with Zafar Iqbal was well known.

“He was the most gifted player I have ever come across in my life. It is a big loss for the hockey fraternity. We shared a very good understanding on the field. He will be missed,” a disappointed Zafar said about his team-mate and dear friend, who passed away on Wednesday morning at a private hospital in Gurugram.

Shahid, 57, was recently admitted to a hospital as he was suffering from liver and kidney ailments.

Shahid was awarded the ‘Best Forward player’ at the 1980 Champions Trophy in Karachi. He was a member of the Indian team that won the country’s eighth and last gold medal at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. Shahid was also part of the Indian team that won silver at the 1982 Asian Games and bronze at the 1986 Asiad.

Shahid also led the Indian team in 1985-86 and was selected in the Asian All Star side in 1986.

Shahid played in an era and in a team when India had a number of brilliant stick work masters like Zafar Iqbal, Mervyn Fernandez, Charanjit Kumar, M M Sommayya, Surinder Singh Sodhi and M K Kaushik. But the soft-spoken man from Varanasi made his own mark with his artistry on the field.

Shahid was conferred with the Arjuna Award in 1980-81 and Padma Shri in 1986.

Shahid was a strong critic of foreign coaches and in a recent column for a newly-launched Hindi sports magazine had written that Indian hockey’s obsession with strategic plans was holding the past masters of the game back.

“If those foreign coaches are so good then they would have been coaching their own country. We are eight-time Olympic champions and we are proud of that fact but as per the current scenario we should not expect any medal from the team in the upcoming Rio Olympics,” Shahid wrote in his column.

“The world has learnt hockey from Indians and from my point of view this is totally absurd that foreigners can teach us the game of hockey better. Why should we learn from them? A lot of foreign coaches have been changed in the last two decades and the outcome is that neither the players have adjusted with the coaches nor have the coaches hit the right tone with the players.”

Working as a Sports Officer with Indian Railways in Varanasi, Shahid’s last few days were confined to the Intensive Care Unit at Medanta — The Medicity hospital in Gurugram after he was airlifted from his home town.

On and off the pitch Shahid was a fighter to the core, and the quality was evidently visible in his last days as he fought hard in the company of his family, friends and hockey fraternity before succumbing to his illness.

Shahid is survived by his wife Parveen Shahid and twin children Mohammad Saif and Heena Shahid.

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Printable version | Jul 28, 2021 7:43:38 AM |

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