Hockey Olympians remember Keshav Datt

Hockey Olympians recalled their association with two-time Olympic gold medallist Keshav Datt, who passed away in Kolkata early on Wednesday.

File picture of Keshav Datt.   -  RAJEEV BHATT

Hockey Olympians recalled their association with two-time Olympic gold medallist Keshav Datt, who passed away here early on Wednesday.

An Olympic gold medallist in 1964, Gurbux Singh, who was close to Datt, remembered the legendary player.

“When I began my career in hockey, Datt was my hero. I came to Bengal in 1956 and was fortunate to see him play for Mohun Bagan. I have played briefly against him as he was on the last leg of his career. He was a tall and handsome person and had a simple game. He used to pass the ball to others or hit it hard. He did not dribble too much,” Gurbux told Sportstar.

READ: Two-time Olympic hockey gold medallist Keshav Datt passes away

Gurbux fondly remembered Lahore-born Datt’s insistence on writing his surname correctly. “He loved to speak in Punjabi or Hindi. He was very particular in writing Datt as his surname. If you wrote Dutt, he used to get annoyed and said, ‘No, I am Datt,’” said Gurbux.

“During my 18-year-old tenure as Bengal Hockey Association (BHA) secretary, I used to invite him and (late) Jaswant Rajput as guests to all our events.”

Bir Bahadur Chettri, a 1980 Olympic hockey gold medallist from Bengal, said Datt was a fine gentleman. “We used to call him Guruji. And he used to treat us like his children. He was a very friendly person and a thorough gentleman who never used any foul language. During my playing days, he used to encourage us and his words inspired us.

READ: Keshav Datt, the gentle giant on the turf

“Datt never found fault with anyone. He used to say, ‘Mistakes happen. Just keep working hard,” said Chettri while remembering that he shared the dais with Datt nine years ago in Delhi where Hockey India felicitated the Olympic gold medalists.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, in a tweet, paid tributes to Datt, describing him as one of the “true legends” of hockey.

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