Legends of Indian Hockey: 30+ Best Hockey Players of India with Career Stats

Overwhelming guilt of defeat haunted the mind of the wizard who then proclaimed, “As long as I live, I shall never forget this match, or get over the shock of this defeat, which still rankles me.” The hockey legend Dhyan Chand had grown restless after British India’s loss against the host Germany in a practice match of the 1936 Summer Olympics. The above-mentioned line was a confession that he made to himself on that sleepless night. The outcome of this became a memory so captivating, a promise so long-lasting, and a story so inspiring that revolutionized the course of Indian hockey. British India won 8-1 against Germany in the finals and the rest is history. We will further know about the famous hockey players of India and how these hockey legends of India created history.

The victory at the 1936 Olympics against one of the growing superpowers, fueled the nationwide movement for Indian independence. Post-independence, several famous hockey players in India reminisced these memories to empower their game. As a result, the Indian hockey team managed to win gold in three consecutive Olympics, from 1948 to 1956. The hockey legends of India embarked on a glorious journey and are famed as the undisputed champions of the stick and ball game.

Table of Contents

List of Best Hockey Players of India

It is our immense pleasure to list the names of hockey legends and the famous hockey players in India today. Let’s start with the legends of Indian Hockey.

  1. Dhyan Chand
  2. Roop Singh
  3. Leslie Claudius
  4. Udham Singh
  5. K.D. Singh
  6. Balbir Singh Dosanjh
  7. Shankar Laxman
  8. Ajit Pal Singh
  9. Dhanraj Pillay
  10. Mohammad Shahid
  11. Manpreet Singh
  12. P.R. Sreejesh
  13. Harmanpreet Singh
  14. V.R. Raghunath
  15. Mandeep Singh
  16. Chinglensana Singh Kangujam
  17. Rupinder Pal Singh
  18. S.V. Sunil
  19. Akashdeep Singh
  20. Birendra Lakra
  21. Vivek Prasad
  22. S.K Uthappa
  23. Deepak Thakur
  24. Viren Wilfred Rasquinha
  25. Dilpreet Singh
  26. Ashok Kumar
  27. Hardik Singh
  28. Sardara Singh
  29. Varun Kumar

1. Dhyan Chand

Famour Hockey Players of India
Legends of Hockey: Dhyan Chand

Dhyan Chand Career Stats & Achievements:

  1. Appearances: 185
  2. Career Goals: 400+
  3. Playing Position: Centre forward
  4. Best Performance: As Captain of the British Indian Hockey team at the 1936 Summer Olympics

Born on 25 August 1905, Dhyan grew up to join the British Indian army like his father. He was known to be more inclined towards wrestling but his fate took him elsewhere. He started playing for the Army team and the nation discovered his impeccable goal-scoring talent. As the British Indian team stepped foot in the 1928 Summer Olympics, the world witnessed a god-sweeping goal through the lush green fields of Amsterdam. A popular tale revolves around his mystic reputation wherein he refused a higher position in the Nazi German army offered by Hitler himself.

Nicknamed “The magician”, Dhyan Chand is the greatest hockey player of all time. Chand’s control over the ball has been subject to many popular sports sagas. Today, India celebrates his birthday as National Sports Day.

2. Roop Singh

Famour Hockey Players of India
Legends of Hockey: Roop Singh

Roop Singh Achievements:

  1. Playing Position: Left-in
  2. Best Performance: 1932 Summer Olympics

India produced the best inside-left in the year 1932. As the younger brother to Major Dhyan Chand, Roop played alongside him to stage India as the king of field hockey. He was widely recognized for his aggressive style of play and humble personality in real life. He remains one of the most famous hockey players in India to date. A street in Munich and a cricket ground in Gwalior stand as proof of his magnificence.

3. Leslie Claudius

Famour Hockey Players of India
Legends of Hockey: Leslie Claudius

Leslie Claudius Career Stats & Achievements:

  1. Appearances: 100+
  2. Playing Position: Half-back
  3. Best Performance: As Captain of the Indian Hockey team at the 1960 Olympics

Born in 1927, Leslie grew up with an interest in football. However, Indian Olympian Richard Carr witnessed a spark of hockey skills in him. Coming from a middle-class Anglo-Indian family, Claudius persistently looked for a career in sports. It was a blessing to Indian hockey that soon after winning the Beighton Cup, he quit his soccer dreams. His world-class performance on the field propelled him alongside many names of famous hockey payers in India at the time.

He remained a part of the dominant Indian hockey team that won three consecutive Olympic golds from 1948 to 1956. His influence went well beyond as he received Padma Shri in 1971 and a mention in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the most number of Olympic medals in field hockey.

4. Udham Singh

Famour Hockey Players of India
Legends of Hockey: Udham Singh

Udham Singh Achievements:

  1. Playing Position: Centre forward
  2. Best Performance: 1958 Asian Games

Born in 1928, Udham hailed from a small village, Sansarpur in Jalandhar, a village that is credited for producing a large number of national hockey players. He took up hockey as a career during his college years. He played hockey for the Punjab police for around eighteen years and his remarkable performance domestically earned him several caps. Udham Singh made day-to-day headlines by the time he matched the feat of Leslie Claudius in 1964 for possessing most number of Olympics medals. As a Coach of the Indian Hockey team, Udham managed to win a bronze and a silver in the later years. Being one of the all-time famous hockey players in India, Udham was presented with the Arjuna Award in the year 1965.

5. K.D. Singh

Famour Hockey Players of India
Legends of Hockey: K.D. Singh

K.D. Singh Achievements:

  1. Playing Position: Inside right
  2. Best Performance: 1948 Summer Olympics

Born in 1922, Kunwar Digvijay Singh, fondly called Babu showed proficiency in the field of hockey which earned him an international status parallel to the wizard. Former New Zealand Captain Cyril Walter once wrote, “I run out of adjectives in trying to describe his superlative dribbling and the timing and geometrical accuracy of his passing. Babu’s dribbling is poetry in motion.”In the year 1953, K.D. received the Helms Trophy as well as the title of Best Sportsman in the World.

6. Balbir Singh Dosanjh

Famour Hockey Players of India
Legends of Hockey: Balbir Singh Dosanjh

Balbir Singh Dosanjh Achievements:

  1. Playing Position: Centre forward
  2. Best Performance: 1952 Summer Olympics

Born in 1924, Balbir Singh Sr. is a living legend and by far the most famous hockey player in India after Dhyan Chand. Singh’s aggressive, machine-like goal-scoring power built his formidable image. The Olympic Museum Exhibition of 2012 recognized Singh’s contributions to the dynamic sport of hockey. Singh had been conferred with the Padma Shri in 1957 and honoured with the title of Indian Sportsperson of the year in 1982.

Singh has established a gigantic reputation over the decades. He holds the Guinness World Record of scoring the most number goals (5) in an Olympic men’s field hockey final. Singh received the Major Dhyan Chand Lifetime Achievement award in the year 2015.

7. Shankar Laxman

Famour Hockey Players of India
Best Indian Hockey Players: Shankar Laxman

Shankar Laxman Achievements:

  1. Playing Position: Goalkeeper
  2. Best Performance: 1956 Summer Olympics

Nicknamed the Rock of Gibraltar, Shankar defended the Indian goalpost carrying a superlative charisma derived from his army strength. Shankar showed his exceptional performance when the Indian hockey team faced a major setback due to the hand fracture of its dynamic captain Balbir Singh, at the 1956 Olympics. His personality boasted magnificence, so much so that an Australian hockey magazine once wrote, “For Lakshman, the ball was the size of a football. It was his afternoon of glory and fame,” noting his performance at the finals of the 1964 Olympics.

Shankar received the Arjuna Award and Padma Shri during his career and was posthumously bestowed with the Major Dhyan Chand Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016. This is why he appears in the many names of famous hockey players in India.

8. Ajit Pal Singh

Famour Hockey Players of India
Best Indian Hockey Players: Ajit Pal Singh

Ajit Pal Singh Achievements:

  1. Playing Position: Halfback
  2. Best Performance: As Captain of the Indian Hockey team at the 1975 World Hockey Cup

Born in the year of Indian independence, Ajit hailed as another budding talent from Sansarpur, Punjab. At the age of 73, he still looks after the Indian hockey team. Ajit is one of the living hockey legends of India. His excellent show of skills in the 1968 Olympics earned him several caps for the Indian hockey team. However, after the collapse of the team at the 1976 Olympics, Ajit announced his retirement from professional hockey. He was honoured with the Arjuna Award in 1970 and the Padma Shri in 1992 for his extraordinary contributions to the world of Indian hockey.

9. Dhanraj Pillay

Famour Hockey Players of India
Best Indian Hockey Players: Dhanraj Pillay

Dhanraj Pillay Career Stats & Achievements:

  1. Appearances: 339
  2. Goals: 170
  3. Best Performance: As Captain of the Indian Hockey team at the 1998 Asian Games

He is the only player in Indian hockey history to have appeared in four Olympics, World Cups, Champions Trophies and Asian Games each. Dhanraj is a special mention in the list that recounts the names of famous hockey players in India because of his innumerable contributions to the world of hockey during his fifteen years of career. He remains controversial for his straightforward opinions against the hockey management in India. Dhanraj focuses on improving the game of Indian hockey on the AstroTurf.

He is a well-known figure in international hockey which finds him a torchbearer of Indian hockey today. Dhanraj received the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award for the years 1999-2000 in recognition of his accomplishments.

10. Mohammed Shahid

Famour Hockey Players of India
Best Indian Hockey Players: Mohammed Shahid

Mohammed Shahid Career Stats & Achievements:

  1. Playing Position: Forward
  2. Best Performance: The Best player at the 1986 Men’s Hockey World Cup

Born in 1960, the hockey maestro hailed from Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. In his 10 years of international career, Shahid scored goals in three summer Olympics and two Asian Games. Famous for the ‘Half push-half hit’ stroke, Shahid inspired many others like Dhanraj Pillay to express their zeal for hockey. His skills won him the position on the Asian All-star team of 1986. Shahid received the Arjuna Award in the year 1980 and Padma Shri six years later. The decade of the 80s is remembered in his memory.

11. Manpreet Singh

Famour Hockey Players of India
Best Indian Hockey Players: Manpreet Singh

Manpreet Singh Career Stats & Achievements:

  1. Appearances/Goals: 240+/19
  2. Playing Position: Halfback
  3. Best Performance: As Captain of the Indian Hockey team at the 2018 Asian Champions Trophy

Captain of the current Indian national hockey team, Manpreet is known for his fun personality, effective leadership, and wonderful field support. He is the most valued hockey player in India today. He recently won the FIH Player of the Year 2019 award. Till now, Manpreet has been a part of various tournaments where India managed to win four gold, five silver, and three bronze medals. The future of Indian hockey looks bright with him at the helm of the national team. His name shall soon be added to the names of famous hockey players in India.

12. P.R. Sreejesh

Famour Hockey Players of India
Best Goalkeeper for India in Hockey: P.R. Sreejesh

P.R. Sreejesh Career Stats & Achievements:

  1. Appearances: 208
  2. Playing Position: Goalkeeper
  3. Best Performance: 2018 Champions Trophy

Hailing from a small village in Kerala, Sreejesh solidified his place in the national team right after his schooling days. He is regarded as one of the finest goalkeepers in the world. Sreejesh achieved the feat of Best Goalkeeper twice in the Champions Trophy tournaments. His performance in the Asian and Commonwealth games remains noteworthy. He was awarded Padma Shri in the year 2017.

13. Harmanpreet Singh

Famour Hockey Players of India
Harmanpreet Singh

Harmanpreet Singh Career Stats & Achievements:

  1. Appearances/Goals: 100+/56
  2. Playing Position: Defender
  3. Best Performance: 2018 Asian Champions Trophy

Arriving from the outskirts of Amritsar, Harman’s stick play has time and again left the audience mesmerized. His goal-scoring power and macho persona have won hearts across the continent. A promising player who strives to take the game of Indian hockey ahead, which is why he appears side by side with the names of famous hockey players in India.

14. V.R. Raghunath

Famour Hockey Players of India
V.R. Raghunath

V.R. Raghunath Career Stats & Achievements:

  1. Appearances/Goals: 220+/130+
  2. Playing Position: Fullback
  3. Best Performance: 2013 Asia Cup

A prominent drag-flicker emerged out of the Kodagu district of Karnataka. Raghunath debuted in the year 2005 and has portrayed a significant role in strengthening the national team. His performance in the international arena is visible from the statistics. He was adjudged the Best Player of the Asia Cup tournament in 2013 for his extraordinary contributions.

15. Mandeep Singh

Famour Hockey Players of India
Mandeep Singh

Mandeep Singh Career Stats & Achievements:

  1. Appearances/Goals: 120+/60
  2. Playing Position: Forward
  3. Best Performance: 2018 Asian Games

Hailing from Jalandhar, Punjab, Mandeep Singh has made sure that the opponent goalpost stands as the enemy and he keeps shooting balls at it. This budding talent is domestically one of the most famous hockey players in India. He has played around eight international tournaments and flawlessly represented India in all of them.

16. Chinglensana Singh Kangujam

Famour Hockey Players of India
Chinglensana Singh Kangujam

Chinglensana Singh Kangujam Career Stats & Achievements:

  1. Appearances/Goals: 200+/40+
  2. Playing Position: Halfback
  3. Best Performance: 2014 Asian Games

Through some of the toughest matches, rose Chinglesena to support the back of the Indian hockey team. He debuted for the national side in the year 2012. Although he chanced upon some of his best matches, Chinglesena’s potential has remained underutilised. His club career has flourished incredibly and we all expect the same for his international game.

17. Rupinder Pal Singh

Famour Hockey Players of India
Rupinder Pal Singh

Rupinder Pal Singh Career Stats & Achievements:

  1. Appearances/Goals: 200+/80+
  2. Playing Position: Fullback
  3. Best Performance: 2010 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup

A pupil of the Chandigarh Hockey Academy grew into massive fame for his attacking style of play. Rupinder finds a spot in the list of famous hockey players in India because of his amazing feat that was accomplished after the hat-trick against Britain in the 2010 Azlan Cup. He is world-renowned for his drag flick. Rupinder has represented India on various international occasions and posed as the top scorer in one of them in 2011. There is no wonder why he appears in the list that recollects the names of famous hockey players in India.

18. S.V. Sunil

Famour Hockey Players of India
S.V. Sunil

S.V. Sunil Career Stats & Achievements:

  1. Appearances/Goals: 250/59
  2. Playing Position: Halfback
  3. Best Performance: 2011 Champion’s Challenge

Born in the Kodagu district of Karnataka, Sunil endured a childhood of unimaginable struggle. Losing his mother at the age of four, Sunil learned to take care of himself at an early age. His extraordinary footwork and pace of play amazed the selectors and he landed an international hockey career in the year 2007. He earned the opportunity to represent India in the 2012 Olympics and 2014 Commonwealth Games. Sunil’s motivational story stands as evidence that no hurdle can stop embracing skill and empowered zeal.

While Hockey has a glorious past, there are some other sportsmen in the country who could never come into the fame pictures. Here are some Famous Football Players in India of all Time with Career Stats & Achievements – God of Small Thing

19. Akashdeep Singh

Famour Hockey Players of India
Akashdeep Singh

Akashdeep Singh Career Stats & Achievements:

  1. Appearances/Goals: 170+/30+
  2. Playing Position: Forward
  3. Best Performance: 2018 Asian Champions Trophy

Rising through the ranks of domestic tournaments, Akashdeep swayed his way to the Indian national hockey team. He is a young spirit and the sports media has often captured his dynamic play. He has represented India in the 2016 Olympics and the 2018 Commonwealth Games. His growing popularity has placed him in the list of famous hockey players in India of all time.

20. Birendra Lakra

Famour Hockey Players of India
Birendra Lakra

Birendra Lakra Career Stats & Achievements:

  1. Appearances/Goals: 170+/9
  2. Playing Position: Fullback
  3. Best Performance: 2012 Champions Challenge Tournament

A distinguished player from Rourkela, Orissa, Birendra is one of the famous Lakra hockey families. His brother and sister, are both national-level players. His name sounds prominent cause of the recognition he gathered during the semi-finals of the 2012 Champions Trophy. Domestically, Birendra has managed to gain a very patient reputation as he supports his at the most critical moments.

21. Vivek Prasad

Famour Hockey Players of India
Vivek Prasad

Vivek Prasad Career Stats & Achievements:

  1. Appearances/Goals: 58/15
  2. Playing Position: Midfielder
  3. Best Performance: 2018 Champions Trophy

Indian hockey found this pure talent in Hoshangabad, Madhya Pradesh. At the age of 20, he has managed to show his excellent proficiency and earn a huge crowd of fans. You have to appreciate this young fellow as he gets nourished under the Indian hockey team. Vivek was named the best young player at the 2019 FIH Series Finale.

22. S.K. Uthappa

Famour Hockey Players of India
S.K. Uthappa

S.K. Uthappa Career Stats & Achievements:

  1. Appearances/Goals: 100+/10+
  2. Playing Position: Midfield
  3. Best Performance: As Captain of the Indian Hockey team at the 2016 Asian Champions Trophy

Another budding talent has hailed from the Kodagu district of Karnataka. He debuted in the year 2012 and since then, effectively participated in more than 100 international matches. His experience and aggressive play style have placed him in the list of famous hockey players in India. Moreover, he received the Ekalavya award in the year 2014 for his amazing performance on the field.

23. Deepak Thakur

Famour Hockey Players of India
Deepak Thakur

Deepak Thakur Career Stats & Achievements:

  1. Appearances/Goals: 65+/73
  2. Playing Position: Forward 
  3. Best Performance: 2001 Junior World Cup

Star of junior Olympics still stands as one of the famous hockey players in India for early performances. Thakur is recalled for his exceptional performance in the 2001 Junior World Cup where India won the gold. He received the Arjuna Award in 2004 for playing a key role in encouraging the youth of India to pursue hockey as a professional career.

24. Viren Wilfred Rasquinha

Famour Hockey Players of India
Viren Wilfred Rasquinha

Viren Wilfred Rasquinha Career Stats & Achievements:

  1. Appearances/Goals: 180/10+
  2. Playing Position: Midfielder
  3. Best Performance: 2002 Asian Games

Hailing from Maharashtra, Viren finds a mention in this list because of his multi-dimensional career that emerged from his hockey start. He is an Arjuna Awardee of 2005, and his sensible outlook towards everything led him to the PMO Task Force in the 2016 Summer Olympics alongside famous sports personalities like Pullela Gopichand and Abhinav Bindra. The Economic Times named him in the list of “Top 40 under 40” leaders in India. It is imperative to add him to the names of famous hockey players in India.

25. Dilpreet Singh

Dilpreet Singh hockey india
Dilpreet Singh hockey india

Dilpreet Singh Career Stats & Achievements:

  1. Appearances: 180
    2. Playing Position: Forward
    3. Best Performance: He scored 2 goals which both were field goal

The 20-year-old made his international debut in 2018 with the New Zealand tour, and the coaches were impressed enough to choose him for all three major competitions that year: the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, and World Cup. The young striker is highly rated and seen as a future star despite his lack of experience. The youngster, a graduate of the prestigious Surjit Hockey Academy in Jalandhar, frequently travelled with the Indian youth team but was left off of the final World Cup roster in 2016. But now, India will need his efforts more than ever.

26. Ashok Kumar

Ashok Kumar hockey india
Ashok Kumar hockey india

Ashok Kumar Career Stats & Achievements:

  1. Appearances: 180
    2. Playing Position: Forward
    3. Best Performance: At the 1975 World Cup

Ashok Kumar, a former professional field hockey player from India, was born on June 1st, 1950. His father, Indian hockey player Dhyan Chand, is his father. Kumar was well-known for having excellent ball control and abilities. He competed for India in the 1975 World Cup, which they won. In 1966–67 Ashok Kumar played for Rajasthan University, while in 1968–69 he played for All India Universities. After that, he relocated to Calcutta to play for Mohun Bagan Club, representing Bengal in the 1971 National Championships in Bangalore. Later, he joined Indian Airlines, which he later represented in national competitions. When he was a member of the team for the Asian Games in Bangkok in 1970, when they finished second behind Pakistan, he made his debut on the world stage. Additionally, he competed in the Asian Games in 1974 and 1978, which were held in Tehran and Bangkok, respectively, and won silver medals both times.

Kumar twice represented India at the Olympic Games, at Munich in 1972 and Montreal in 1976. India placed third in 1972 and eighth in 1976, respectively.

27. Hardik Singh

Hardik Singh hockey india
Hardik Singh hockey india

Hardik Singh Career Stats & Achievements:

1.Appearances/Goals/CA:180/1+/39+
2. Playing Position: Mid Fielder
3. Best Performance:
At Tokyo Olympics 2020

In 2018, he made his senior international debut at the Asian Men’s Hockey Champions Trophy and was a member of India’s team at the 2018 Men’s Hockey World Cup. Before that, he served as vice-captain of the Indian junior team.

Hardik improved his skills after playing for his town, and he could now compete with junior state and national players. He competed in domestic competitions, winning a bronze medal in the 2014 4th Hockey India Sub Junior National Championship.

The talented hockey player from Punjab competed in several international competitions, winning gold in the 2016 Under-18 Asia Cup and the 2016 Euro Asia Cup. In the Four-Nation International Tournament that took place in 2016, he also managed to win a gold medal.
Hardik still needs to establish himself on the senior Indian hockey squad. He just had the chance to compete with the senior squad in the 2018 Hero Asian Champions Trophy.

28. Sardara Singh

Famour Hockey Players of India
Sardara Singh

Sardara Singh Career Stats & Achievements:

1.Appearances:178
2. Playing Position: Mid Fielder
3. Best Performanc
e: Hockey World League Semi-Final 2017 where they stood sixth.

Hockey Player Sardara Singh, also known as Sardar Singh, played field hockey professionally for India in the past and captained the squad. His birthday is July 15, 1986. He generally plays the centre-half position. Sardara was the nation’s youngest player to serve as captain when he led the Indian squad at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in 2008. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 2015, which ranks as India’s fourth-highest civilian honour. The Indian Team’s goaltender, P. R. Shreejesh, succeeded him as captain on July 13, 2016. On September 12, 2018, Sardara announced his departure from international hockey. He played 314 games over 12 years.

The seasoned hockey player, who was recently nominated for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, made his debut for India in the junior team’s match against Poland during the 2003–04 season. Sardar gained notoriety when he became the Indian team’s youngest captain, leading his group in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in 2008, after being promoted to the senior team in 2006. Sardar was also granted the Arjuna Award in 2012.

29. Varun Kumar

VARUN KUMAR hockey india
VARUN KUMAR hockey india

Varun Kumar Career Stats & Achievements:

  1. Appearances/Goals/CA: 172/22/85
    2. Playing Position: Defender

    3. Best Performance: In the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Kumar is a Himachal Pradesh native who was born in Dalhousie, District Chamba. When Kumar was in school, he started playing hockey for the first time. In the 2012 Junior National Championships, he competed for his home state of Punjab and did exceptionally well, gaining a call-up to the junior national squad. Kumar was sidelined for two years due to an injury sustained shortly after the competition, but after performing admirably in the 2014 Junior National Championships, he was called up to the junior national squad.

Source: Wikipedia

These are some of the most famous hockey players of all time. Comment down below your favourite! 😀

Debojeet Chakravarty

I'm a first year grad student and have been exposed to the world of writing for over two years now. Though I'm new to the professional field of writing, I'm confident of finding myself in a suitable position that complements my style, very soon enough.

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