Dhanraj Pillay pays tribute to departed legend Shahid

'He was a magician on the field. There used to be times when he would single-handedly win games for the team," says Pillay.

Mohammad Shahid was part of the team that won the gold medal at the 1980 Moscow Olympics.   -  Hindu Archives

One of India's greatest hockey players, Mohammad Shahid, passed away today in Gurgaon due to multiple organ failure. He was a key member of the Indian team led by Vasudevan Baskaran that won the gold medal at the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

Former India captain Dhanraj Pillay paid tribute to one of India's all-time hockey greats saying, "He was a magician on the field. There used to be times when he would single-handedly win games for the team."

Shahid's career was at its final stage, as Pillay's was on the rise. "I remember playing against him in 1991 in the Sanjay Gandhi Tournament in Delhi. All of us players from the 90s generation had tremendous respect for him," he said.

Pillay recalled an incident from a felicitation function for the national team by the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) in 1998. "Shahid came up to Mukesh (Kumar, former India captain) and me. He put one hand around his shoulder and the other around mine, and told us, 'If the two of you had been part of our team in the 80s, we would have been unbeatable!'."

Recalling his last meeting with Shahid, Pillay said, "I remember the last time I met him, it was at the Medanta Hospital. Despite his illness, he spoke to us as much as he could. He was a very loving person."

Pillay added: "I would like to pay my respects to his family in this time of grief and I pray to God to give them strength."