Indian hockey legend Mohammad Shahid, known for his wizardly stick work during his playing days, passed away today due to multiple organ failure in a private hospital in Gurgaon.
The 56-year-old great was admitted to Medanta - the Medicity - earlier this month after a bout of jaundice and dengue made his condition worse. He was airlifted from Varanasi.
"He breathed his last at 10:45 this morning. It was multiple organ failure that led to his passing away. He will be taken to Varanasi and last rites will be performed there tomorrow," Shahid's son Mohammed Saif told PTI.
Known for his brilliant dribbling skills, Shahid was considered one of India's greatest hockey players. He was a member of the V Baskaran-led Indian team that won a gold medal at the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
He was also a part of the national team that won a silver medal at the Delhi Asian Games in 1982 and bronze in the Seoul Asiad in 1986.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined the hockey fraternity and sports lovers in grieving Shahid's death.
"In the untimely & unfortunate demise of Mohammed Shahid, India has lost a talented sportsman who played with immense passion & vigour," Modi wrote on his twitter account.
"We tried our level best to save Mohammed Shahid but sadly, neither our help nor prayers were enough to save him. Tributes to him. RIP," Modi wrote in his second tweet.
"I am deeply saddened by Shahid's death. He was a great player and also a great human being. He will be surely remembered as one of the greatest hockey player who played for India," Balbir Singh (Senior) said.
"It is an irreparable loss and it is sad that great players are remembered only after have they have gone. I pray that God grants peace to his soul and strength to his family to endure the tough time," he added.
Remembering the time during the 1980 Games in Moscow, M K Kaushik, who was one of the closest friends of Shahid, said his team spirit was amazing.
"He was quite young in 1980 and were very senior to him. He respected every one and had a jolly nature. His dribbling skills played a crucial part in India winning the gold. The whole world respected his excellent stick work. There was no one who could match him whether it was a creating a penalty corner or firing a field goal," Kaushik said.
"He came from a family that was not financially well off. Since he was in a joint family, his team spirit was great. And till his last he remained a gritty person. You never felt that he was ill. He had said he will be alright and discharged soon but it did not happen," Kaushik added.
Hockey India also condoled the death of Shahid.
"Hockey India grieves the untimely loss of India Hockey Legend Mohammed Shahid, who passed away today, 20 July 2016," Hockey India tweeted.
Shahid made his first appearance for India in the junior team in 1979 at the Junior World Cup in France. He made his debut with the senior team in the same year in a four-nation tournament in Kuala Lumpur under the captaincy of Vasudevan Baskaran, after his inclusion in the team following his impressive performance in the Aga Khan Cup.
His attacking partnership on the field with Zafar Iqbal was well known.
He was awarded the 'Best Forward player' at the 1980 Champions Trophy in Karachi. His skill and ability earned him a place in the Asian All-Star team in 1986. He also captained the Indian team during 1985–86.
Later, he also served as sports officer with the Indian Railways in Varanasi.
Sports Minister Vijay Goel today met family members Shahid and condoled the sad demise of the legendary hockey player.
Goel conveyed his deep sorrow and sympathies to the bereaved family members of Shahid on behalf of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Goel said that in Shahid's death the country has lost a legendary player.
He said the life and career of Shahid will always inspire young generation to perform at their best and bring laurels for the country at international events such as the Olympics.
Member of bronze medal winning Indian hockey team at 1972 Munich Olympics, Dr Vece Paes told PTI: "He was one of the outstanding players of the recent past. In his generation, he was a class apart. I was the selector when he played for India.
"I remember him as a gentle, respectful person who always smiled. It's really sad to lose him at this young age," he said.
Another hockey great Gurbux Singh too expressed his sadness at the untimely death of Shahid.
"It's a sad day for Indian hockey. I feel more sad because he passed away so early in his life. Unfortunately he could not overcome the liver ailment," he said.
"Probably he was one of the greats of his era in the 1980s. He was a master of dribbling and you could compare him with anybody in the world during that period. He outshone others with his dribbling. In fact I had selected him for the 1982 Asian Games team who won a silver medal in Delhi."