Field hockey then eventually came out of being just a school game and started to spread throughout the world. This major event of the Olympics has always created an adrenaline rush for sports fans and also delivered amazing athletes. So here is the list of the top 10 greatest field hockey players of all time.
It is widely believed that field hockey was derived from the Irish game of Hurling and its Scottish version Shinty which were very popular and recorded as early as 1272 B.C. The Mongolian people of China used to play a more sophisticated version of this game called Beikou for around 1,000 years.
European invaders of Chile also recorded a similar version of this game called Chueca or The Twisted One, which was mainly played by the Araucano Indians around the 16th century. Since then, this sport achieved its place among the most-played sports in the world.
Greatest Field Hockey Players of All Time | 2023 Updates
The first account of the name of this game with modern methods was found in an 1853 book by Lord Lytton. He first mentioned the name of this game when he wrote, “On the common, some young men were playing hockey. That old-fashioned game, now very uncommon in England, except at schools…”
10. Fergus Kavanagh
Australian field hockey player Fergus Kavanagh is acclaimed by many as one of the greatest field hockey players of the modern day. He is a regular member of the Australian men’s national field hockey team and plays for the Western Australia state team in the Australian Hockey League.
While having him as a main player, Australia won the 2010 Delhi Hockey World Cup and 2014 The Hague World Cup. Fergus also led his national team to win a gold medal in the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games and two Bronze medals in the Olympics. He also represented Australia in the Azlan Shah Cup in 2011.
While being the very best defender of field hockey, he also scored 14 goals in his 191 appearances for the national team. His other great achievement was winning the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
9. Dhanraj Pillay
Former Indian field hockey player Dhanraj Pillay was the only player from India to be named in the World Eleven side for the 1994 World Cup in Sydney. He is the only player in field hockey history to participate in four Olympics from 1992 to 2004, four World Cups from 1990 to 2002, four Champions Trophies from 1995 to 2003, and four Asian Games from 1990 to 2002.
Pillay also served as the captain of the Indian national team and won gold medals in the 1998 Asian Games and 2003 Asia Cup. He scored more than 170 goals in 339 international matches and also became the highest goal scorer in the Bangkok Asian Games.
He was honored with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award in 2000 and Padma Shri, the leading Indian civilian award in 2000. Pillay now holds the ninth place in our list of greatest field hockey players of all time.
8. Jamie Dwyer
Australian field hockey player Jamie Dwyer has been a pioneer member of the Australian men’s field hockey team from 2001 to date. He scored more than 150 goals in his career of more than 250 matches. He led his national team to win the gold medal in the 2004 Summer Olympics.
Dwyer was also a major contributor to the national team, which won bronze medals in the 2008 Summer Olympics and 2012 Summer Olympics. He now also holds his place among the greatest field hockey players of all time. Jamie also represented his team and won a gold medal in the 2006 Commonwealth Games and 2010 Commonwealth Games.
He won the gold medal at the 2010 Men’s Hockey World Cup and won the silver medals in the 2002 Men’s Field Hockey World Cup and the 2006 Men’s Field Hockey World Cup. He was named IHF World Player of the Year in 2004 and 2007.
7. Ties Kruize
Former Dutch field hockey player Ties Kruize is widely regarded as the best penalty corner taker in the history of Field hockey. He won the Gold medal in Amstelveen Hockey World Cup in 1973. Kruize then won the Silver medal in the 1978 Buenos Aires Hockey World Cup.
He participated as a team member of the Dutch national team in the EuroHockey Nations Championship and won the gold medal in 1983 Amsterdam and the bronze medal in 1974 Madrid. Kruize also showed his amazing skill with the hockey stick in Hockey Champions Trophy and won the gold medal two consecutive times in 1981 Karachi and 1982 Amstelveen.
Besides the national team, he was also a pioneer member of the HC Klein Zwitserland club and won Dutch titles eight consecutive times from 1977 to 1984. Kruize now holds the seventh place among the top 10 greatest field hockey players of all time.
6. Teun de Nooijer
Dutch field hockey player Teun de Nooijer is widely considered one of the greatest field hockey players of modern times. Besides his national team, he also played for the Dutch team HC Bloemendaal. He also played for Uttar Pradesh Wizards of the Hockey India League.
He completed a record 400 games as a pioneer forward of the Dutch national team on 15 August 2009, with a victory against India with a 5-3 score. Nooijer was a pioneer member of the Dutch national team for the Olympics in 1996. He won gold medals in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and 2000 Sydney Olympics.
He also led his national team to the finals of the 2004 Athens Olympics and 2012 London Olympics. Teun won silver medals on both occasions. He won the 1998 Hockey World Cup in Utrecht and was awarded bronze medals in the 2002 and 2010 World Cups.
5. Shahbaz Ahmed
Former Pakistani field hockey player Shahbaz Ahmed is widely considered one of the best forwards in Field Hockey history. Besides, he now holds fifth place in our list of the greatest field hockey players of all time. He was nicknamed The Maradona of Hockey for his amazing dribbling skills with the stick.
Ahmed became a member of the Pakistan National Hockey Team in 1986. He captained his team and led them to the victory of Men’s Hockey World Cup victory in 1994. Besides Pakistan national team, he also played for the German club Harvestehuder.
He then also appeared for the Dutch club OranjeZwart after the Atlanta Games in 1996. Shahbaz participated in three Olympic Games and won the bronze medal in the 1992 Olympics. He is the only player in Field Hockey history to achieve Player of the Tournament awards two consecutive times in the 1990 and 1994 World Cup.
4. Hassan Sardar
Former Pakistani field hockey player Hassan Sardar is widely regarded as one of the top 10 greatest field hockey players of all time and also the best player from Pakistan Hockey Federation. He won the gold medal and led his Pakistan men’s national team to victory in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles as the captain.
Sardar participated in his first World Hockey Cup in Mumbai in 1982. And there, he proved himself as the best center forward Pakistan has ever produced. He won the very first world cup he played in 1982. Besides he also achieved the Man of the Tournament for scoring 11 goals.
Sardar was also marked for his major contribution to crushing India with a score of 7-1 in the 1982 Asian Games in New Delhi. He achieved a hat trick on that occasion. He is currently the Chief Selector of the Pakistan field hockey team as well as handled the dual role of the head coach and manager of the national team.
3. Ric Charlesworth
Former Australian field hockey player and Coach Ric Charlesworth received the Advance Australia Award in 1984 for his amazing contribution to field hockey. He was a pioneer member of the Australian team and represented in the five Olympics. And out of those, he played two times as the captain from 1972 to 1988.
Ric also led his national team to victory in the World Hockey Cup in London in 1986. He was named Western Australian Sportsman of the Year a record three times. He also received the Western Australia Citizen of the Year Award in 2001. Ric was inducted into the Australian Hockey Hall of Fame in 1987.
And with that, he became the second player to achieve that honor. He was also inducted into the Hall of Champions in Western Australia in 1995. He was honored with the Australian Sports Medal for his amazing career in 2000. Ric now holds the third place in our list of the top 10 greatest field hockey players of all time.
2. Sohail Abbas
Pakistani field hockey player Sohail Abbas is considered a genius creation of Pakistan. Besides, fans also regard him as one of the greatest field hockey players of all time. He is the highest scorer in modern field hockey. Sohail is the first person in history to reach the 300-goal mark.
He is the fastest to score 100 goals and 200 goals barrier in international hockey history. Sohail is regarded as the greatest flicker for his 65% drag-flick conversion rate. He also holds the record for most goals scored in a single calendar year for his 60 goals in 1999.
Interestingly, he also came close to breaking his own record with his 59 goals in 2004. He is the only person in history to score 21 hat tricks and even a double hat trick in international games. He is also the overall top scorer of Pakistan with 16 goals in three world cup appearances.
1. Dhyan Chand
Indian field hockey player Dhyan Chand is widely regarded as the greatest field hockey player of all time. Fans also regard him as the best athlete in Olympic history. India was the most dominant team in Hockey during his career. They won three Olympic gold medals consecutively from 1928 to 1936.
He scored more than 1000 goals in his career from 1926 to 1948. And for that, he was nicknamed ‘The Wizard’. His magical stickwork drew audiences from other venues to the Olympic hockey field. A German newspaper covered him with a headline that stated: “The Olympic complex now has a magic show too.”
As an interesting fact, Fuhrer was so impressed by Dhyan Chand’s skills that he offered him the post of Colonel in his Nazi army, which Dhyan declined. Due to his unbelievable wizardry, the Netherlands’ authorities once broke his stick. They did that before a match to check if there was a magnet inside the hockey stick. This wizard died on 3 December 1979.
While being the birthplace of many amazing talents, field hockey is also studded with various appreciable trivia. The British Empire first popularized it while spreading it throughout their ruling territory. And that eventually became the sole reason for field hockey’s huge popularity. It is mainly got popularized in Australia, New Zealand, and the major parts of sub-continents.
Greatest Field Hockey Players – Infographics
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FAQs Regarding Greatest Field Hockey Players
Q. Who is the greatest field hockey player of all time?
Major Dhyan Chand is unanimously considered the greatest field hockey player of all time by fans and sportswriters. Known as ‘The Wizard’ and ‘The Magician’ for his excellent ball control, Chand was India’s leading light during the era when they dominated field hockey.
Q. Who is the fastest drag flick in hockey?
Singh is well known for his quick hands. At one time, he was said to have the fastest drag flick in the world (speed 145 km/h). The Indian team won the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in 2009 after beating Malaysia in the finals at Ipoh under his leadership.
Q. Who invented hockey?
Hockey became the team sport we know today in Nova Scotia during the early 1800s. Canadians are the most familiar with hockey today. It is often credited to James Creighton for the development of ice hockey as a team sport.
Q. Which country is most successful in field hockey?
Pakistan has won the tournament four times. Each of the Netherlands and Australia has won three titles, and Germany has won two titles. Both Belgium and India have won once. The 2018 World Hockey tournament was held from 28 November to 16 December in Bhubaneswar, India.
Last Updated On: December 2023