Early Life of Dhanraj Pillay
The early life of Dhanraj Pillay can easily be described as an example of how talented people always make their way out in spite of the strife they are born into. Dhanraj was born on 15th July, 1968 in Khadki in a family that was suffering from financial crisis. In spite of that financial instability, the youngest member of the family, Dhanraj successfully went forward towards fulfilling his dream of becoming a legendary Hockey player.
Career of Dhanraj Pillay
After making his international Hockey debut in the year 1989, Dhanraj Pillay got the first major break in the World Cup, Sydney, 1994. Dhanraj Pillay made his debut in 1989 with the national team and in a career spanning over 15 years, appeared for India in four Olympic Games, World Cups and Champion Trophies each. He made 339 appearances for the national team and is recorded, unofficially, to have scored 170 goals. He also played for clubs in countries such as Malaysia, France, England and Germany. Recognizing his achievements, he was awarded the Padma Shri Award by the Government of India in 2000.
Dhanraj Pillay's Career: 1994 - 1996
Dhanraj Pillay during World Cup, Sydney, 1994, was a newcomer in the Indian national team and he made some waves in the international circuit with his wonderful speed. The Indian Hockey enthusiasts then saw Dhanraj Pillay in the SAF Games, Chennai, 1995. The tournament saw Pillay becoming a hero in India, as he played extraordinary Hockey throughout the tournament, especially in the Final against Pakistan. Then India saw Dhanraj Pillay in the Olympic Qualifier, Barcelona, 1995, where his brilliant play helped India to secure a berth in the Olympics.
Dhanraj Pillay's Career: 1996 - 2000
Dhanraj Pillay in Atlanta Olympics, 1996 was not at his best and India also had a disastrous campaign in the tournament. The Indians then saw Dhanraj Pillay in World Cup, Utrecht, 1998 and the tournament is considered as one of the worst tournament in Dhanraj Pillay's career. He came out of his miserable form very soon and Dhanraj Pillay during Commonwealth Games, Kuala Lumpur, 1998, was a completely different player. Playing after recovering from a heel injury, he showed some brilliant performances in the tournament. Watching Dhanraj Pillay during Asian Games, Bangkok, 1998 was another treat to the Indian Hockey enthusiasts. It was the supreme and utterly brilliant form of the Indian captain, Dhanraj Pillay that helped India to clinch the gold medal in the tournament. Then, Indians saw Dhanraj Pillay in Asia Cup, Kuala Lumpur, 1999, where he helped India winning the bronze medal. The Indian Hockey enthusiasts were happy to see Dhanraj Pillay in Azlan Shah Cup, Kuala Lumpur, 2000. Dhanraj Pillay's wonderful contributions made it easy for India to win the bronze medal in the tournament.
Dhanraj Pillay's Career: 2000-2004
Almost all the powerful teams in the world did pay special attention to Dhanraj Pillay in Olympic Games, Sydney, 2000, as he had the ability to turn a match in India's favour on his own. Dhanraj Pillay once again played brilliantly in the tournament, though India failed to get a good result. The Indian people became happy once again after watching
Dhanraj Pillay during Champions Trophy, 2002
Dhanraj Pillay won the "Player of the Champions Trophy" award in the tournament. Then, the Indians saw Dhanraj Pillay in Asian Games, Busan, 2002, where India became the runner-up, thanks to some magical performances by Dhanraj Pillay. The teams once again paid extra attention to Dhanraj Pillay in World Cup, Kuala Lumpur, 2002, because of his special talent. Watching Dhanraj Pillay in Champions Trophy, Amsterdam, 2003 was another treat for the Indians, as Dhanraj Pillay played superbly in this tournament, also.
Dhanraj Pillay in 2003 Kuala Lumpur Asia Cup
Indians universally lauded Dhanraj Pillay's performance in Asia Cup, Kuala Lumpur, 2003. The Indian team won the tournament under the captaincy of Dhanraj Pillay.
Dhanraj Pillay in 2004 Athen Olympics
The Indian Hockey enthusiasts watched Dhanraj Pillay in Athens Olympics, 2004 for the last time in any international tournament. India once again failed to yield a good result from the tournament, in spite of Dhanraj Pillay's wonderful performance. The track records of Dhanraj Pillay undoubtedly ensure one thing that, he is the fittest player in the history of Indian Hockey. It has been seen that there are always at least two defense players in the field marking him. But he runs 100 m in a very adequate record time of 11.6 seconds before defenders can even think of a move.
Awards and Honours of Dhanraj Pillay
Dhanraj Pillay was the recipient of India's highest sporting honour, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award for the year 1999-2000, and the India's fourth highest civilian honour, in 2000. In the 2002 Champions trophy, held at Cologne, Germany, Dhanraj Pillay was conferred the "Player of the Tournament" award.
His long career span of more than 17 years has made him one of the greatest Hockey players of India. Dhanraj Pillay is considered as one of the most talented forwards of his era. Pillay was the captain of the triumphant 2002 Asian Games hockey team. Presently Pillay is involved in trying to start a hockey academy at Bombay. A biography on Dhanraj Pillay titled "Forgive me Amma (Mother)" has also been released.
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Dhanraj Pillay, Indian Hockey Player