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A FORGOTTEN HERO (9/16/2008)
--K. Arumugam
Date of Birth: September 8, 1908. Place: Jubbulpore, India. Domicile: Sipri Bazar, Jhansi City, Country: India. Nationality: British subject by birth.

This was how the details the identity card No. 3770, dated 25.1.1932, issued by the organizers of the Xth Olympiad in Los Angeles, read.

‘The British subject by birth’ is Roop Singh, greatest hockey player India ever produced. His exploits, patented back-hand forward passes, those stylish goals which mesmerized men – and more women -- of his times, were hardly recognized – even when he was alive or even now as the nation callously allows his one hundredth birth anniversary (today) go unnoticed.

72 years ago, on August 15 at the Berlin Olympics final, under the blazing sun, the famed Indians failed to dazzle, wilting under the crowd pressure. The defending champions, prolific scorers, could not put one till the 32nd minute. At this stage, the jewel from Jhansi stepped in, for once gave up the habit of setting goals for others, instead scored on his own to break the deadlock.

The renewed Indians, led by his elder brother Dhyan Chand, went on to add another seven in the next half of play for the historic gold at the Hitler Olympics. Counting of goals and captaincy counted among those who counted – with the result the crucial goals scorer in Roop Singh’s role never got the deserving limelight.

This has been the inside-left’s persona. He kept a low profile for himself, hardly interacted with others on tour, all to show humility to his elder brother.

undefined But his straight talking, famed brother often made it clear: “Roop is a better player than me”. When he said so repeatedly during the first stop en route Los Angeles Olympics, in Ceylon, the reporters first refused to believe, and then after a few matches, they heaped paeans on the younger sibling.

Dhyan Chand’s were not mere words. He is hardly the one to prop up an undeserving one. At Los Angeles Olympics a month later, Dhyan Chand’s words were vindicated when the score card read: Total goals of India: 35, Roop Singh: 13 Dhyan Chand: 12

Unfortunately for Roop, world war denied him the third Olympics. Thus he lost the chance to lead the team, third gold and garner as much adulation as everyone else did. Captain-obsessed India is yet to bestow single honour or award to the greatest sportsman. Media goes ha ha with Bradman’s century, forgetting this poor genius.

Roop unknowingly spurned his fortune due to his ‘home’ loyalty. The graduate was in Bombay Customs when the Gwalior Maharaja Jivajirao Scindia asked the son of the soil to join his personal staff only to abandon him soon with India’s independence.

Roop had to take up a menial job and condemned to live in poverty, unable to support his big family. Even he gave up the President post of MP State Hockey Association in favour of those who lent him a loan or support! When he was ill, a Chennai based doctor offered him free treatment out of pity.

Had he been actually a ‘British subject by birth’, at least that country would have recognized his centenary. India is ungrateful its own icon Roop Singh.

This article of mine was published in Hindustan Times on 8th Sept,2008.

Dhyan Chand and Roop Singh (right) in a rare pose.

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ARUMUGAM'S articles
by Thendral Saai on 9/24/2011 7:39:18 PM
Read some of your articles,known many new things.Information on events, hockey players,photos,match results,etc.are given legible and elaborate.
Roop Singh
by Ivan Spedding on 9/27/2010 9:28:10 PM
When I played hockey for Australia in the 1950s, an Indian Olympic gold medalist was a team-mate in my club team, St George, in Sydney. His name was Richard (Dick) Carr and he was a forward with the Indian team that won the Los Angeles Olympic Games gold medal. Dick always maqintained that the greatest player he ever played beside was Roop Singh and consequently I knew as much about Roop as I did about Dhyan. Dick Carr Carr taught many of the players from St George club, who went on to play for Australia in the 1950s and later, much about the game. For example Brian Booth (who also captained Australia in cricket), Keith Leeson, my brother Kevin Spedding and myself. Dick is also a forgotten hero in Australia.
what players
by BHAVESH GAUTAM on 6/2/2009 10:53:34 AM
It gave me goosebumps while reading this article. i am so glad that i could see this rare photo. plus thanx 4 such knowledge, it makes it neccessary for us to remember are actual heroes. When ever i come across a dhyan chand's statue, i bow down and pray that hockey would live forever. I bow down to roop singh ji also, and pray the same.