Dhanraj Pillay appeared for the first time in a club match, on behalf of a club in Mumbai. His brother was his initiator in the club and he caught the eyes of the spectators in the match. After that, he played for the Mahindra & Mahindra club for several years, before being selected for the Indian national team. As the Indian Hockey Federation keeps no official statistics for the goals scored so official account of the goals he made can not be given. But the estimated goals were between 130 to 170. His entire track record is being described below:
In the domestic front he has played:
* Senior Nationals -- 1988 - Delhi, May 1997 - Bangalore (4th)
* Junior Nationals -- 1985 - Manipur
* National Games -- Dec 2002 - Hyderabad (2nd), 3 GOALS, Captain
* Jawaharlal Nehru Hockey Tournament -- Nov 2003 - Delhi (2nd), Nov 2002 - Delhi (2nd)
* Bombay Gold Cup -- Apr 2003 - Mumbai (1st)
* Muruguppa Gold Cup -- Jul 2002 (1st) - Man of the Final, Forward of Tourney; Jul 1999 (1st) - Man of The Final; July 1998 (2nd)
* Lal Bahadur Shastri Hockey Tournament -- Nov/Dec 2004 - Delhi (2nd), Nov/Dec 2002 - Delhi (2nd).
Dhanraj Pillay is regarded as the only player to have played in four Olympics (1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004), four World Cups (1990, 1994, 1998, and 2002), four Champions Trophies (1995, 1996, 2002, and 2003), and four Asian Games (1990, 1994, 1998, and 2002). India won the Asian Games (1998) and Asia Cup (2003), under his captaincy. He has also been honoured as the highest goal scorer in the Bangkok Asian Games and was the only Indian player during the 1994 World Cup held at Sydney to figure in the World Eleven side. The other international tournaments he played are:
* Commonwealth Games -- Sep 1998 - Kuala Lumpur (4th), 5 Goals, Captain
* SAF Games -- 1995 - Chennai (1st)
* Indo-Pak Series -- Feb/Mar 1998 - Lost 3-4, 3 GOALS, CAPTAIN
* Champions Challenge -- Dec 2001 - Kuala Lumpur (1st), 1 GOAL
* Sultan Azlan Shah Cup -- Jan 2004 - Kuala Lumpur (LAST), 2 GOALS, CAPTAIN; Feb 2000 - Kuala Lumpur (3rd), 5 GOALS; 1996 - Ipoh
* Indira Gandhi Gold Cup - 1995, 1994 - 7 GOALS, Player of the Tournament
* Asian Tour -- Mar 2001 - Dhaka - 9-Nation Prime Minister's Gold Cup (1st), 3 GOALS
* Australian Tour -- Jun 2003 - Sydney - 3-Nation Tournament (1st), 1 GOAL, CAPTAIN; May/Jun 2003 - Perth - 3-Nation Tournament (2nd), 1 GOAL, CAPTAIN; Apr 2000 - Sydney (3rd in 4-Nation), 1 GOAL; Apr 2000 - Perth (1st in 4-Nation), 2 GOALS.
* European Tour -- Aug 2004 - Leverkusen - 3-Test Series vs. Ireland (Won 2-1), 1 GOAL; Jul 2004 - Dusseldorf - 4-Nation Tournament (2nd); Jun 2003 - Hamburg - 4-Nation Hamburg Masters (1st), CAPTAIN; Jun 2003 - Duisburg (GER) - 1-off Test with Germany, 2-2 Tie, CAPTAIN; Aug 2002 - Amstelveen - Rabobank 4-Nation Tournament (LAST), 1 GOAL; Jan 2000 - Barcelona - 4-Nation Tournament (3rd); Jan 2000 - Barcelona - 1-off Test with Canada (Won 3-2); Jan 2000 - Barcelona - 3-Test Series vs. Belgium (Won 2-0), 1 GOAL; 1997 - Hamburg - 4-Nation Tournament; 1995 - Germany - 4-Nation Tournament; 1993 - Vienna - Alps Cup; 1993 - Poznan - Inter-Continental Tournament; 1990 - Germany - BMW Tournament, 2 goals.
* Test Series at Home -- Jan 1998 - 4-Test Series vs. Germany - Lost 0-3, CAPTAIN; 1997 - vs. Germany; 1996 - vs. England, Germany, Australia; 1995 - vs. Holland, Spain; 1994 - vs. Holland, Australia, South Africa; 1993 - vs. South Africa.
* Clubs Dhanraj Pillay Represented: Indian Gymkhana (London) from 1992 to 1993, FC Lyon (France) 1993, Selangor (Kuala Lumpur), Abhahani Limited (Dhaka) from 1997 to 1999, Stuttgart Kickers (Stuttgart) from May -June Oct 2000, Bank Simpanan Nasional (Kuala Lumpur) from Nov 2000 to Feb 2001, Arthur Andersen (Kuala Lumpur) Mar 2002 to June 2002, Singapore (Singapore) Nov 2002, Ernst and Young (Kuala Lumpur) from Sep to Oct 2004 and Telekom Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur) from Jul-sep 2005. Dhanraj played for the Maratha Warriors in the Premier Hockey League for two seasons towards the end of his career.
Awards for Dhanraj Pillay
Dhanraj Pillay has won a large number of prestigious awards through his entire career, including national, international and also regional awards. He won India's highest sporting honour, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award in the year of 1999-2000. He won the prestigious civilian award, the Padma Shri in the year 2000. He has also given the Arjuna Award in 1995 and the K.K. Birla Foundation Award for 1998-99.
His record clearly places him amidst the august company of India's greatest hockey players, and Pillay's fans are found even in countries as diverse as the Netherlands and Sri Lanka, thanks to his outstanding contributions to the game.