Mohammed Shahid, whose dazzling dribbling enchanted team-mates, opponents and fans alike in hockey, is no more. Words would be inadequate to capture the magic the Varanasi man conjured on the field.
Mohammed Shahid, whose dazzling dribbling enchanted team-mates, opponents and fans alike in hockey, is no more. Words would be inadequate to capture the magic the Varanasi man conjured on the field. YouTube doesn’t have videos either to help us understand the full extent of Shahid’s greatness. Those who played with him and against him say he was among the greatest in the game. Players who grew up watching him play and fans who lapped up his elegant style can’t stop raving about his skills.
A person from each category pays glowing tribute to the legend who was part of the Indian team that won the gold medal at the 1980 Olympics.
V. Baskaran, captain of India’s golden team in 1980, was fortunate as he had a ringside view of the coruscating brilliance of Shahid. “I would say Shahid was the Messi of hockey. With the ball, he was simply unstoppable. Whenever I watch Messi on TV, I’m reminded of Shahid. Defenders merely existed to be beaten for Shahid,” he said.
Baskaran still remembers the bewilderment of Pakistani players after being tormented by Shahid in a four-nation tournament at Malaysia in 1979. “They couldn’t believe that a guy who was playing in his first tournament could be so good. As I played with Shahid for Railways until 1986, I had numerous chances to enjoy the beauty of his game at close quarters,” he said.
According to Baskaran, Shahid was born to play in the left-in position. “His dodging was unbelievable and control immaculate. As a team-mate, I was always in awe of his mesmerising skills. It would appear that the ball was glued to his stick. He was also fearless. I think in the last three decades, Shahbaz Ahmed of Pakistan and Dutchman Stephan Veen alone came close to Shahid’s class. His place in India’s all-time greatest XI is unassailable,” he added.
Shahid could also be compared to Brazilian football great Garrincha for his vibrant style of play. “Shahid wanted to attack all the time. He would plead with me not to give him any defensive duties. ‘Give me the ball, I will take care of the rest’ he would say,” Baskaran recalled.
For Olympian Mohammed Riaz, Shahid was a childhood hero. “Shahid had such an affinity with the ball that he could dribble in the dark. I have seen it with my own eyes. His speed and skill enabled him to evade the attention of three defenders.”