Iqbal told IANS, as far as sports are concerned, Dhyan Chand is the biggest recipient of Bharat Ratna.
In 2014, legendary Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar was the first and only player to be awarded the Bharat Ratna. However, even earlier, there has been a demand to honor Dhyan Chand with the country’s highest civilian award.
Iqbal, who was awarded the Padma Shri and Arjuna Award, said, Sachin Tendulkar has been given the Bharat Ratna Award. Even then, we had requested the government to give Dhyan Chand the prestigious award. In fact, we have been requesting the government for decades. I still remember that Sachin was honored. Then we took a procession from the statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh to Jantar Mantar at Barakhamba traffic crossing and we also sat for some time at Jantar Mantar to remind the government.
The former captain further said, even before the award of Bharat Ratna to Sachin, Dhyan Chand’s file had gone from the Sports Ministry to the PMO. But no further action was taken on his file. I remember that there was a poll to decide which player should be given the Bharat Ratna and most people voted in favor of Dhyan Chand. In fact both he and Sachin could have been awarded this award. This does not create any controversy.
Dhyan Chand was part of the Olympic gold medal winning team in Amsterdam (1928), Los Angeles (1932) and Berlin (where he was captain). Dhyan Chand, who retired from international hockey in 1948, played many matches and scored hundreds of goals.
National Sports Day is celebrated in his honor every year on 29 August in the country on his birth anniversary.
Under Iqbal’s captaincy, India won a bronze medal in the 1982 Champions Trophy in Holland. He said that even though Dhyanchand did not receive the Bharat Ratna, he was known for his magical game.
Iqbal said, my personal feeling is that even if he did not get Bharat Ratna, he would still remain a legend. He has a huge contribution for the country in the field of hockey. We are very proud that he is recognized by his game and not by Bharat Ratna.
He said, it is the same with Sachin. He is known for his game and not just Bharat Ratna. Players are known by their game, not by the awards.
EZA / SGK