Indian hockey legend Balbir Singh Sr was called the best centre-forward player of all time. After the Indian hockey team's second hat-trick of Olympic gold in 1948, 1952 and 1956, his sporting prowess has given the nation many occasions to celebrate and has helped create a distinct identity in the post-independence years.
Born in Punjab to Karam Kaur and Dalip Singh Dosanjh, a freedom fighter, Balbir Singh's early years were spent without his father, who was always traveling and jailed several times. Hockey had mesmerized him from an early age. He started playing this game since he was 5 years old. Then at the age of 12, when he saw the Indian hockey team win its third Olympic gold medal in 1936, Balbir Singh Sr. knew what to do next in his life.
He made his debut as a goalkeeper and then went on to play in the back four. But he got the right idea of his skills for the first time when as a striker he is going to get a special opportunity to play in the local tournament. Found my true identity. Apart from being part of 3 Olympic winning teams, Balbir Singh Sr also won a silver medal with the Indian hockey team at the 1958 Asian Games in Tokyo, Japan. Let us inform that he was the first Indian sportsperson to be awarded the Padma Shri, India's fourth highest civilian award in 1957.
Balbir Singh Sr. also worked in the Punjab Sports Department for many years and later served as the coach of the Indian Hockey team. Let us tell you that as a coach, he also helped India win the only Hockey World Cup title till date (in 1975). The legend is widely regarded as one of the best players in hockey history.