September 8 marks the 101st birth centenary of Roop Singh, one of the greatest hockey players India has produced. Like so many other historical occasions, the day will also pass without the government or hockey associations taking note.
Born in 1908, Roop Singh played in two Olympics — 1932 and 1936. However, the greatest inside forward’s career was cut short by the advent of World War II.
Roop Singh, the younger brother of the legendary Dhyan Chand, scored the first goal in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games final, setting the stage for the others to maul the hosts. In the second half, India scored seven goals to win their first Olympic hattrick 8-1.
He retired from government service with a paltry pension of Rs 148 per month and led a life of penury thereafter. Roop Singh maintained a low profile all his life as a mark of respect to his elder brother, though the maestro always rated his younger brother to be better than him.
Roop Singh also excelled in golf, tennis and cricket. When he died in the 1970s, he left behind 12 children. The jewel from Gwalior has a stadium named after him in the city but cricket, not hockey, is played there!