PHF honored 12 former greats of the game legends by inducting to hall-of-fame

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KARACHI: Pakistan Hockey Federation honoured 12 former greats of the game – 6 from Pakistan and 6 from other countries – including two umpires by inducting them into unique hall-of-fame on Thursday in Karachi.

Special maroon coloured jackets were conferred upon the players as a mark to include them in the PHF’s hall of fame, the first of its kind event in the history of Pakistan hockey.

Dutch legends Paul Litjen and Floris Jan Bovelander were among the four foreign players who received this award. Germany’s Christain Blunk and Spain’s Juan Escarre were also conferred with the hall of fame awards by the PHF.

Australian umpire Don Prior and Dutch umpire Rob Lathouwers were among foreign umpires to be inducted into the PHF’s hockey hall of fame.

Pakistani greats Islahuddin Siddiqi, Shahnaz Sheikh, Akhtar Rasool, Samiullah, Hassan Sardar and Shahbaz Ahmed were among the local players to receive the hall-of-fame jackets from CM Sindh Murad Ali Shah.

Hall of fame inductee from Netherlands, Paul Litjen, was considered as the most fearsome penalty corner specialist of his time. He played 177 international matches scoring 268 goals, a record he held from 1982 to 2004 which was later broken by Pakistan’s Sohail Abbas. He was also the member of Netherlands’ first-ever world cup winner team in 1972 and the victorious Dutch team that won Champions Trophy in Karachi in 1981.

Floris Jan Bovelander was another phenomenal penalty corner specialist from Holland. He was top scorer of 1994 World Cup. He had scored two goals in the final of that event against Pakistan. He also has an Olympic gold to his credit that he won with the Netherlands’ team in 1996 in Atlanta.

Germany’s Christian Blunk was member of the Olympic gold medalist team in 1992, he was the player of the tournament in that event. He also led his team to Silver medal in 1990 World Cup that was played in Lahore.

Spanish player Juan Escarre played 256 international matches for his country, including three editions of summer Olympics. He was captain of Spanish team that won the Champions Trophy in Lahore in 2004.

Pakistan’s hall-of-fame induction Islahuddin led Pakistan to hockey World Cup glory in 1978. Not only did Pakistan win the World Cup in 1978 under his leadership but it completed a grand slam by winning the Champions Trophy and Asian Games gold medal as well in 1978.

He played between 1967 and 1978, scored 117 goals in 130 matches. Islahuddin also won the silver medal in the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, W. Germany and a bronze medal in the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.

Islahuddin won the 1971 World Cup. As captain, he was runner-up in the 1975 and 1978 World Cups.

Shahnaz Sheikh played between 1969 and 1978. He was capped 68 times and scored 45 goals for Pakistan. He won silver in 1972 and bronze in 1976 Olympics, won the 1971 World Cup and was runner-up in 1975 and won again in 1978.

He was one of the most skilled hockey players Pakistan produced. In the early 1970s, he was the most acrobatic Pakistani forward and then he became such a force that his absence from the field through injury was a major cause of the ‘Green Shirts’ narrowly losing two high-profile matches.

Shahnaz also had a ‘good hockey head’ over his shoulders. One lasting impression of him was his rather brief stint as coach of the Pakistan junior team, which won the Junior Asia Cup.

Samiullah, known as ‘flying horse’, was the finest left-winger of his time and may be of any period for Pakistan hockey. His lightening raids shattered all the defences. Played for Pakistan from 1972 to 1982, has two world cup gold medals and one silver to his credit along with a silver medal and a bronze medal in Olympics. He was captain of Pakistan team that hammered India by 7-1 in the final of Asia Cup in 1982.

Akhtar Rasool has achieved something that every player would have been dreaming of. Three world cup gold medals, including one as captain.

From 1971 till 1982, Akhtar played numerous national and international matches, displaying his superior skills in hockey.

He had an exceptional technique and a knack of passing the ball to the right player at the right time. In the latter part of his hockey career, Akhtar made a great mark for himself.

Hassan Sardar was arguably the greatest center forward in the history of the game. He was player of the tournament in 1982’s World Cup, 1984 Olympics, 1982 Asia Cup and Asian Games and played an instrumental role in Pakistan’s victory in these events.

Shahbaz Ahmed was considered to be among the best forwards in the history of field hockey. He led Pakistan to the 1994 Men’s Hockey World Cup victory.

Called the Maradona of Hockey, Shahbaz represented Pakistan in various major events and played an instrumental role in making his side victorious.

He has won gold medals in the Asia Cup, New Delhi, 1989; Asian Games, Beijing, 1990; silver medals in Champions Trophy, 1988; 7th World Cup, Lahore, 1990; BMW Trophy, Amsterdam, 1990; and a bronze medal in 8th Champions Trophy, 1986. He was awarded the best player award in 1994 World Cup in Sydney as well.

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