New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 29 paid tribute to Dhyan Chand on the occasion of National Sports Day.

The Prime Minister Tweeted, "Today, on #NationalSportsDay, we pay tributes to Major Dhyan Chand, whose magic with the hockey stick can never be forgotten. This is also a day to laud the outstanding support given by the families, coaches and support staff towards the success of our talented athletes.”

August 29, which is the birthday of hockey legend Major Dhyan Chand, is celebrated as National Sports Day in India. While India is not known to rule the world of sports (except cricket maybe) Indian athletes have come a long way by winning medals for the country in the Olympics, Commonwealth and other major sporting events.

Major Dhyan Chand among other sports personalities stands out as one of the greatest field hockey players of all time.

Born on August 29, 1905 in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, as Dhyan Singh, he joined the army at the age of 16. Chand was a title given to him by his army colleagues since he would practice hockey at night after the moon came out.

Between 1922 and 1926, Chand exclusively played army hockey tournaments and regimental games and was selected to tour New Zealand. The team won 18 matches, drew 2 and lost only 1, receiving praise from all spectators.

After hockey was reintroduced in the Olympics, the Indian Hockey federation sent a team including Chand to the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics.

On 17 May the Indian national hockey team made its Olympic debut against Austria, winning 6-0, with Chand scoring 3 goals. The next day India defeated Belgium 9-0; however, Chand only scored once. On 20 May, Denmark lost to India 5-0, with Chand netting 3. Two days later, he scored 4 goals when India defeated Switzerland 6-0 in the semi-finals.

The Indian team won its country's first Olympic gold medal by beating Netherlands in the finals. Chand had scored 14 goals in 5 matches.

A newspaper had reported, “This is not a game of hockey, but magic. Dhyan Chand is in fact the magician of hockey.”

In fact, once in the Netherlands the authorities broke Chand’s hockey stick to check if there was any magnet inside because of his superb ball control. He was asked by an elderly woman to play with her walking cane. And he still managed to score goals with it.

He was given the nickname, ‘The Wizard’ for his tremendous control of the hockey stick and the ball. Even the legendary cricketer Don Bradman said, "You score goals like runs."

In the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, India beat USA 24-1 and Japan 11-1 to win Gold again. He scored 12 goals while his brother Roop Singh netted 13 out of the 35 goals India scored. This led to them being dubbed the 'hockey twins'.

In the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Dhyan Chand who was the flag-bearer, refused to salute Hitler. After India played its first match in the 1936 Olympics, Dhyan Chand's magical stickwork drew crowds from other venues to the hockey field. A German newspaper carried a banner headline: 'The Olympic complex now has a magic show too.' The next day, there were posters all over Berlin: Visit the hockey stadium to watch the Indian magician Dhyan Chand in action. During the 1936 Olympic final against Germany, it's said that Dhyan Chand removed his spiked shoes & stockings in the 2nd half and played bare feet. He managed to score three goals. India won 8-1. In Berlin, Adolf Hitler wanted to buy his stick after watching the final match against Germany.

Dhyan Chand played his final international match in 1948 and scored over 400 goals during his international career.