There used to be a time in hockey’s history when hearing the name of Prithipal Singh would send shivers down the opponent players. The opponent team would know they would be facing an uphill task and the opponent goal keeper would only pray that he doesn’t get to face Prithipal Singh. He was deservingly referred to as “World’s Most Feared Penalty Specialist” of his generation. This Indian Hockey Legend participated in three Olympics and won a medal for the country every single time. Prithipal Singh was one among the many hockey players who brought glory to the sport and gifted moments of happiness and pride to fans all over the world.
Prithipal Singh dearly referred to as ‘King of Short Corner’ was much feared by the opponent for his goal scoring skills and by his own teammates and management for his straight forwardness. This legend who gave his everything for the sport did not live long enough to enjoy the fruits of his sporting life as he was shot dead in broad daylight by his own students on the campus of Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana. Prithipal Singh who was once regarded as the ‘Shining Star’ of Indian Hockey has been forgotten by the government and also people who love the sport. As a tribute to the sporting champion we have compiled a few interesting facts about Prithipal Singh:
Prithipal Singh was born to play Hockey
Prithipal Singh was one among those gifted players who was born to play hockey and add to the glory of the sport. He started his hockey career during his college days as a player in the college hockey team. Prithipal who started his career in 1950 was appointed to the team in 1955 for the extra ordinary skills that he possessed.
Prithipal Singh was such a famous among the hockey community that commentators used to call him as ‘King of Short Corner’. Prithipal Singh stunned everyone with his performance at the Munich Festival held in Germany and also won ‘Best Full Back Player in the World’ award for the same. Recognising Prithipal’s all round performance in sports and education, he was awarded ‘Roll of Honors’ in 1955.
Prithipal was a jack of many trades
The sporting legend was not only an incredible hockey player but also a scholar when it came to academics. Prithipal had completed his post graduation in agriculture and also represented the hockey team and won many matches single handedly for the team. This shows that he had given equal importance to sports as well as education. Prithipal worked for Punjab Police, Indian Railways and later was appointed as the deputy director of youth welfare in Punjab Agricultural University. In the year 1965, he was awarded the Railway Ministers award for being the Best Railway Sportsman recognizing his exemplary contribution to the sport.
The fearful Prithipal at the Olympics
Prithipal Singh represented Indian Hockey Team in three Olympic games and stunned the sporting community by his extra ordinary performance in each of the three Olympics. He also helped India bag medals in all the three Olympics. Indian Hockey Team won Silver in Rome (1960), Gold in Tokyo (1964) and Bronze in Mexico (1968). Prithipal was at his best during the Olympic Games in Tokyo where he alone scored ten goals out of 22 goals scored by the Indian Hockey Team.
First Hockey Player to be awarded Arjuna Award
Acknowledging the contribution made by Prithipal Singh to the sport of Hockey, Government of India honored him with the coveted Arjuna Award. He was honored by the then Indian President, Rajendra Prasad in 1961. By this, he became the first ever hockey player in India to receive the Arjuna Award. Taking into account incredible performances of Prithipal in Hockey he was also awarded the Padma Shri award in 1967 giving due credit to the legend for his meritorious contribution to the sport.
Prithipal’s tragic Death
Prithipal had already retired from Indian Hockey Team and was serving as a sports director at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) when he was shot dead in broad daylight in 1983. The sporting community all around the world was taken aback when they came to know that Prithipal’s own students had fired bullets at their favourite sporting star. On that fateful day, Prithipal Singh parked his bike and was walking towards his office when two of his students pulled out revolvers and shot him exactly at 8.20 am. Even though the incident was witnessed by over 50 university officials and students, no one came forward to rescue Prithipal and not even among them dared to identify the accused in court.
Prithipal Singh who had given his heart and soul to everything that he did in his life was shot dead by his own students bringing a shocking end to a glorious career of a sportsman who had dedicated his life to sports even after retiring from Indian Hockey Team. It is sad that the legend who was once most feared in the world for his deadly goal scoring skills is now forgotten not by the world but by his own countrymen. Do share this article to help us remind the sporting community and the younger generation of the greatness of Prithipal Singh.