Indian hockey mourns Balbir Singh Sr's demise

India's legendary forward Balbir Singh Senior passed away in Mohali due to illness.

Balbir Singh Sr's contribution to Indian hockey will always be remembered.

Indian hockey community paid tribute to triple-Olympic champion Balbir Singh Senior who passed away on Monday after prolonged illness.

Players who were coached by the stalwart reminisced his warm personality and tactical acumen while current national team captains Manpreet Singh and Rani Rampal spoke about their admiration for Balbir Sr.

Obit: Balbir Singh Sr: His hockey stick was a magician’s wand

Manpreet Singh, Indian men's team captain

It is indeed a very sad day for hockey and our country. One of the most respectable, inspiring and ever-so-gracious souls has left us today, and I'm extremely saddened by the demise of this true legend. I remember always getting goosebumps whenever I would meet him and get the chance to listen to his extraordinary experiences, I always want to be like him. His contribution to Indian hockey will always be cherished and admired across generations. May his soul rest in peace. His biggest fan, always.

Rani Rampal, Indian women's team captain

It is with a heavy heart that I remember the legend, the greatest, Balbir sir. Being a triple Olympic gold medallist, his contribution to Indian hockey has remained immense throughout his glorious career, not just on the field, but off it as well. I was very fortunate to have heard some words of wisdom from him whenever I met him, and I can't express in words how much it always meant to me. He always greeted everyone with such humility and it's extremely unfortunate that the world has lost a gem today. May his soul rest in peace.

Joaquim Carvalho, Olympian and World Cupper

Balbir Senior’s man-management skills were superb. He knew how to handle players and hockey officials, he took on people high up in the administration in support of his players. I feel his loss deeply. May his soul rest in peace.

GALLERY: Balbir Singh Sr's stellar career

P.R. Sreejesh, Indian men's team goalkeeper

I was shocked to hear the news of legendary Olympian Balbir Singh Sr demise. My heart felt condolences to his family. I pray that the almighty gives his family the strength to withstand this tragic moment. May his soul rest in peace.

Mervyn Fernandes, 1980 Olympic gold medallist

I played under his charge at the 1982 Asian Games and other tournaments. He was a calm, composed person and a thorough gentleman.

V. Baskaran, 1980 Olympic gold medallist

It has been a very sad morning for me after knowing Balbir Singh ji has left us. I still remember my days in Patiala during the combined university trials in 1978 where I was playing centre-half. He told me, 'Beta, you will have a chance to do better for India if you adapt to different positions.' He was a great man manager and knew how to use players' skillset. In the 1975 World Cup semifinal against Malaysia, he decided to play Shivaji Pawar, an aggressive player, as the centre-forward which helped India come back from a goal down to win the match. All my prayers with his family members. May his soul rest in peace.

V.R. Raghunath, Former defender

It is a very sad day for Indian hockey. Balbir sir was an example for all youngsters. He showed us how to live life on and off the hockey field.  Despite all the success, he always humble and down to earth. I have interacted with him three or four times during Hockey India award functions and our conversations were always about hockey. It was his dream to see Indian hockey team among the top three in the world. His optimism always inspired us to work harder.

READ: Balbir Singh Sr - Always a star among stars

Sardar Singh, former midfielder

Balbir Singh ji's passing away is a very sad day for all of us. It is always a dream for us athletes to play for our country in the Olympics. His achievement of three back-to-back gold medals will always inspire us. My prayers are with his family during in these difficult times

Dato Fumio Ogura, Asian Hockey Federation president

We are extremely saddened to learn about the demise of Padma Shiri Mr. Balbir Singh Dosanjh. He is a true hockey legend and a hockey supporter...He was an exemplary figure in the history of India and Sports. Undeniably, it is an irreparable loss, but no one can avert the decree of the fate. We at AHF offer our earnest sympathies and extend our heartfelt condolences.

Letter of Condolence from FIH:

It is with great sadness that we have learnt of the passing away of hockey legend and three-time Olympic Games gold winners Padma Shri Balbir Singh. Our thoughts are very much with his family at the very difficult time. Padma Shri Balbir Singh will be remembered not only as a highly talented and outstanding international player who represented India in three Olympic Games from 1948 to 1956, but also as a man greatly dedicated to our sport, sharing his experience and knowledge through his coaching with the Indian team.

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