Known for his dribbling skills, Mohammad Shahid caught the imagination of hockey world in the 1980s and was considered one of the most gifted players to have played the game for India. Hailing from Varanasi, Shahid created a flutter in world hockey in the late 70’s and early 80’s with his mesmerising stick work. Such was his control over the game that his dazzling play flummoxed his opponents and he had the capacity to break the most formidable defensive lime-ups. On the pitch, Shahid was most feared by opposition teams but off it he was a polite, humble, down-to-earth human being who was ever ready to help his compatriots and juniors.
Born on April 14, 1960 in Varanasi, Shahid burst onto the international stage at the age of 19 in 1979 against France at the Junior World Cup. However, he came to the limelight in 1980 when he made his debut with the senior side in a four-nation tournament in Kuala Lumpur under the captaincy of Vasudevan Baskaran. Speed and ability to dribble the ball with wizardry was the hallmark of Shahid’s game, which earned him accoldaes and fans from across the globe. Shahid’s attacking partnership with Zafar Iqbal was well known.
“He was the most gifted player I have ever come across in my life. It is a big loss for the hockey fraternity. We shared a very good understanding on the field. He will be missed,” a disappointed Zafar said about his team-mate and dear friend, who passed away this morning at a private hospital in Gurugram. Shahid, 57, was recently admitted to a hospital as he was suffering from liver and kidney ailments.
Shahid was awarded the ‘Best Forward player’ at the 1980 Champions Trophy in Karachi. He was a member of the Indian team that won the country’s eighth and last gold medal at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow,. Shahid was also part of the Indian team that won silver at the 1982 Asian Games and bronze at the 1986 Asiad. Shahid also led the Indian team in 1985-86 and was selected in the Asian All Star side in 1986. Shahid was conferred with the Arjuna Award in 1980-81 and Padma Shri in 1986.
Shahid was a strong critic of foreign coaches and in a recent column for a newly-launched Hindi sports magazine had written, “If those foreign coaches are so good then they would have been coaching their own country. We are eight-time Olympic champions and we are proud of that fact but as per the current scenario we should not expect any medal from the team in the upcoming Rio Olympics.”
Working as a Sports Officer with Indian Railways in Varanasi, Shahid’s last few days were confined to the Intensive Care Unit at Medanta - The Medicity hospital in Gurugram after he was airlifted from
his home town.