Mohammed Shahid wanted to quit hockey just two years after winning the 1980 Moscow Olympic gold. He was upset as people ‘doubted’ the integrity of goalkeeper Mir Ranjan Negi after India’s 1-7 loss to Pakistan in the 1982 Asian Games final in New Delhi.
Shahid felt that if Negi hadn’t been there, the margin of loss could have been much bigger. “He (Negi) did his best under the bar. It was shocking that he was accused of playing for Pakistan later,” Shahid had told veteran sports journalist Padampati Sharma in Varanasi.
“Even then I could sense how humiliated and cheated Shahid felt. His love, honesty and sincerity for the game was immense. He never had any doubt about the integrity of his colleagues,” recalled Sharma when asked about Shahid who passed away on Wednesday morning.
Negi too praised Mohd Shahid for his great qualities as a human being.
Terming Shahid’s death a great loss to Indian hockey, Negi said: “It’s the tragic end of my room partner at the 1982 World Cup in the Mumbai Taj and at the Asian Games village — Mohd Shahid.”
“He was one of the best dribblers of modern hockey. He used to do dribble past all the defenders and pass the ball to Nayeem or others to just score. A great friend, Shahid will be long be remembered by one and all who came in his fold. We will always miss the legend,” he added.
Former Indian hockey captain Ram Prakash Singh also termed Shahid a great player as well as a wonderful human being.
“He was my senior in the team as well as an elder brother and a very good friend,” he said. He used to tell me before a match: ‘RP aaj mein goal wali hockey laya hoon, zordar hit padni chahiye (RP today I have brought the stick to score a goal, so please hit the cross with sheer power)’,” Ram Prakash Singh recalled.
If I asked the same question the next day, his reply used to be: “Aaj dodge marne wali laya hoon, lekin goal bhee kar dunga (Though the stick is good for dribbling today, I will score goals also).”
Varanasi’s Ardali Bazar, to which Mohd Shahid belonged, is the hockey hub of Uttar Pradesh. A recipient of prestigious awards like Arjuna (1980–1981), Padma Shri (1986) and Yash Bharati, Shahid loved to sing and regaled his friends and colleagues in his free time.
“He (Shahid) had no other option but to play hockey. There was no other sport in his area that time. He had no money to get himself photograph when he was selected in the junior team for the 1979 World Cup in France,” recalled Padampati.
Shahid was well known for his attacking style of play on the field with Zafar Iqbal. He was adjudged the ‘best forward at the 1980 Champions Trophy in Karachi. Besides a gold in the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, he bagged a silver at the 1982 Asian Games and a bronze at the 1986 Asian Games. His skill earned him a place in the Asian All-Star team in 1986. He captained the Indian team during 1985-86.
“If Dhyan Chand had magic in his stick, so did Shahid. I’ve not seen the wizard play, but I’ve seen Shahid wield the stick right from the time he was brought to Lucknow Sports Hostel till the end of his illustrious career. He was such a treat to watch that I enjoyed practice sessions of the hostel boys just as I did watching them play in matches,” said another former scribe Alex Chandy.
“Shahid’s class and promise caught the eyes of the men who mattered at a very early age. Luckily, he got the break at the right time, and then, his rise was meteoric. Shahid’s dribbling skill was unmatched and it was dreaded by defenders. Because dribbling past two or three and sending a defence-splitting pass to one of the forwards or slipping into the circle himself like an eel was pleasure to see,” he added.
He further recalled: “His ball control and stick-work were a class apart and if ever he was in the circle, he hit with unerring precision. Along with Syed Ali on the left flank, they made for a great combination on the left. A man of few words, Shahid let his stick do all the talk. Hockey world will miss him.”