Class of '75 still waiting for another World Cup hockey win: Onkar Singh

Updated: Mar 16, 2019, 13:31 IST | Ashwin Ferro

"I feel it's good that I didn't get to play because I could watch every moment of our historic achievement from the sidelines. That was a great team. I hope Indian hockey will be great again," Onkar signed off

Class of '75 still waiting for another World Cup hockey win: Onkar Singh
Onkar Singh (sitting, extreme right) with India's 1975 hockey World Cup-winning team and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Pic courtesy/Onkar Singh Collection

Onkar Singh's mobile is never as busy as it is on March 15. Yesterday marked the 44th anniversary of Indian hockey's 1975 World Cup-winning feat. And Onkar, the youngest member of that epic Ajit Pal Singh-led side that beat arch-rivals Pakistan 2-1 in a tense finale at the Merdeka Football Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, makes it a point to call his former teammates and congratulate them.

"I just spoke to Aslam Sher Khan 10 minutes ago. Before that, I spoke to HJS Chimni, Ashok Diwan, Ashok Kumar, VJ Phillips and Leslie Fernandez. I tried calling our captain Ajit Pal too but couldn't get through to him. I will call him again later," said Onkar, currently the Director of Sports at Khalsa College, Matunga.

Onkar Singh
Onkar Singh

And what do they talk about? "You'll be surprised that we don't talk about that World Cup win as much as we discuss the current state of Indian hockey. All of us only wish the best for Indian hockey. We want to see those days again when India can dominate the hockey world and win a World Cup. Forty-four years is a very long time," said Onkar, who figured in just one match in the 1975 edition.

"Since I was the youngest, everyone called me Chotu. The good thing about that team was that no one shouted at the younger players. It was always an encouraging, "koi baat nahi [never mind]" or "agli baar achcha karna [get it right the next time]" from the seniors. I played half-back but that team were so good that I couldn't make the playing XI. I only played briefly in one match, against Ghana.

Mohinder Singh played half-back and he was too good," recalled Onkar, who has no regrets, though. "I feel it's good that I didn't get to play because I could watch every moment of our historic achievement from the sidelines. That was a great team. I hope Indian hockey will be great again," Onkar signed off.

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