Road running

1975 World Cup Winners — Where are they now?

India were crowned the Hockey World Champions for the first and last time in the third edition back in 1975.

After a bronze in 1971 and a silver in the 1973 World Cup, this win was a step up in the game for the team.

But almost 50 years later, where are players of India’s only Hockey World Cup winning team now?

Here is an update on the whereabouts of the World Cup winning squad of 1975 Hockey World Cup:

Ajit Pal Singh (Captain)

The center-half and captain of the Indian team that brought home the gold from Kuala Lumpur, Ajit Pal Singh, made his international debut in 1960 and represented India in the Olympics, Asian Games, and World Cups until his retirement in 1980.

Ajit continued to play on the domestic circuit for the BSF team after retiring. He was conferred the Arjuna Award in 1970 for outstanding contributions to Indian hockey and the Padma Shri in 1992. He was appointed India’s “chef de mission” for the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Currently, aged 75, he is the organizing member of the All India Balwant Singh Kapur Hockey Tournament for the Mata Parkash Kaur Cup, held every year for U-16 school boys.

Ashok Kumar Singh

Son of hockey legend Dhyan Chand, Ashok Kumar Singh scored the winning goal against Pakistan that led to the team’s victory at the World Cup. He made his international debut in 1970 and played in the Asian Games, Olympics, and other international tournaments, including the World Cup, before retiring.

He was awarded the Arjuna Award in 1974 and 1975, and the Yash Bharti Samman by the UP government in 2013. On retirement, he was appointed the manager of the hockey teams of Indian Airlines and Air India. He is also known to have coached the current India star Vivek Sagar Prasad.

Leslie Fernandez

The squad’s goalkeeper, Leslie Fernandez, played for the Railways and was also a part of the silver medal-winning team at the 1974 Asian Games. His crucial save in the final minutes of the game was also integral to India return with the World Cup in 1975.

He has settled down with his family in Chennai, and was recently seen at the Trophy Tour function held at Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium last month.

Ashok Diwan

The youngest member of the squad, Ashok Diwan, was 19-year-old at the time of the 1975 World Cup. He was a stand-in goalkeeper and played in three crucial matches.

He was also a part of the 1976 Olympic squad, and was one of the three athletes who won the Dhyan Chand Award for Lifetime Achievement in Sports in its inaugural year of 2002. He is a retired employee of the railways.

Surjit Singh Randhawa

Surjit hailed from Batala, Punjab, and entered the Punjab Police Force after college. He made his international debut at the 2nd Hockey World Cup in Amsterdam in 1973. At the 1975 World Cup, he was the first Indian to score.

Interestingly, his wife, Chanchal Randhawa, was also an international field hockey player and led the women’s team in the 1970s. Sadly, he is no longer with us. He died in a car accident in 1984 after retiring from the sport. He was awarded the Arjuna Award posthumously in 1998.

Michael Kindo

The fullback, Michael Kindo, hailed from the tribal belt of Jharkhand. He was well known for his tackling and dodging skills. He was considered a pioneer in hockey for his “no-look pass.”

He is fondly remembered for making the right moves at the right time, and making solid defense an art form. In 1972, he was also the first Adivasi athlete to receive the Arjuna Award.

The tribal icon who instilled hope in future generations died on December 31, 2020, as a result of age-related illnesses.

Aslam Sher Khan

Aslam Sher Khan’s profile boasts not just of the 1975 World Cup triumph but of having been a Congress MP and a Union Minister as well. He is the son of Ahmed Sher Khan, who represented India at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. He played the fullback position.

After the suspension of the Indian Hockey Federation in 2008, he was selected as the head of a new committee by the IOA (Indian Olympic Association) to organize hockey in India. Besides hockey, he is an active politican from the BJP.

Varinder Singh

Varinder Singh represented India and was a part of the podium finishes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, the 1973 World Cup before winning the 1975 World Cup. He received the Dhyan Chand Award in 2007. Varinder Singh moved into coaching upon retirement.

He coached the Punjab and Sind Bank Teams, and had shifted to the Punjab Sports Department. He passed away on June 28, 2022.

Onkar Singh

Mumbai-based Onkar Singh, a.k.a. “chotu,” of the team played the position of half-back, but was a part of the starting 11 only briefly in one match against Ghana.

He is currently the Director of Sports at Khalsa College, Matunga.

Mohinder Singh

Mohinder Singh worked in the Punjab Police and was a part of the 1975 gold-winning World Cup squad and the 1970 silver-winning Asian Games squad.

He died at the very young age of 26 on September 20, 1977, following a short illness.

B.P. Govinda

Billimoga Puttaswamy Govinda played as a forward and was one of the fastest hockey players of his time. His professional career began with the Mohun Bagan in the 1967–68 season.

He represented India in the silver-winning Asian Games squads of 1970, 1974, and 1978, the bronze-winning 1972 Munich Olympic squad, and the silver winning 1973 Amsterdam World Cup squad, besides the gold at the 1975 World Cup.

The former skipper went on to take up the role of the selector for the national hockey team.

Harcharan Singh

Brigadier Harcharan Singh served in the Indian Army from 1969-1999 and was a part of the national hockey teams that won bronze at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, bronze at the 1971 Barcelona World Cup, silver at the 1973 Amsterdam World Cup, and the title at the 1975 Kuala Lumpur World Cup.

The ace left-side attacker had been crucial in scoring the winner in extra-time against Malaysia in the semi-final. He was awarded the Arjuna Award in 1977, the Vishisht Seva Medal in 1981, and the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Award by the Punjab government in 2019, acknowledging him as a Punjab Sports Legend.

Recently, he kicked off Hockey India’s Flashback Series with his memories from India’s outing in 1971-75 World Cups in the run up to the ongoing World Cup.

Harjinder Singh Chimni

HJS Chimni played at the centre forward position during the World Cup and his contribution was vital for the win.

Victor Philips

The 1978 World Cup captain played as a halfback and was a member of the bronze squad at the 1972 Munich Olympics and the 1973 and 1975 silver and gold-winning squads. He was the “World Cup Hero” top scorer with 7 goals.

He came from a hockey family. His older brother John Peter, who played for India, his father, and his younger brother Thomas all played hockey. His speed and dribbling skills always caught the eye, both for defenders and spectators alike.

The Government of India awarded him the lifetime achievement award in 2006 for his contribution to hockey.

Shivaji Pawar

The centre-forward of the 1975 World Cup winning squad is no more. He had scored 2 goals during the tournament.

P.E. Kalaiah

The inside-left came from Coorg came into reckoning through combined University hockey team of 1971 which toured Germany and Holland. He’s considered to be one of the most craftly lefts of the country.

P.E. Kalaiah became the president of Hockey Coorg, the 28th associate member of Hockey India, in 2015.

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