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Shahbaz Ahmed Senior, The Maradona of Hockey and Man with Electric Heels

Posted by admin on March 24, 2024
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Pakistan Hockey Specialist Shahbaz Ahmed Senior Journey

Hockey is deeply ingrained in the fabric of Pakistani culture, symbolizing pride, unity, and athletic excellence. Despite its relatively low profile on the international stage, hockey holds a cherished status as Pakistan’s national game, deeply rooted in the country’s sporting spirit.

Since the mid-20th century, Pakistan has boasted a memorable hockey tradition, marked by unparalleled success in the sport’s peak events, including multiple Olympic gold medals and World Cup victories. The game rings with Pakistanis as more than just a sport; it embodies national pride, unity, and flexibility. Its popularity transcends regional divides, captivating hearts from the lively streets of Karachi to the peaceful valleys of Gilgit-Baltistan. With its graceful yet fiercely competitive nature, hockey remains a cultural touchstone, proof of Pakistan’s enduring passion for athletic excellence and camaraderie on the world stage.

Shahbaz Ahmed Senior

Today, this story has been completed for thirty years. This story begins in February 1994. It is about the captain of Pakistan’s last WC-winning team, popularly known as the ‘Maradona of Hockey’ in the 1990s, Shahbaz Ahmed Senior. The legend was born in Faisalabad on September 1st, 1968. Let’s delve into the extraordinary journey of this legendary player, who captured the hearts of millions with his exceptional talent and passion for the sport.


The Early Days of a Hockey Luminary

He was an athlete even during his school life, used to participate in cricket, football, and hockey, and was equally better in all 3 major sports. Getting inspiration from his uncle in school, he opted to go for hockey and became very popular at that level. As a first boom to his hockey career, being in school hockey, he was invited by Gov College Faisalabad sports teacher to play and represent their college as a hockey player. From this point, he started gaining fame and won many Player of the Tournament awards along with cash prizes. 

A Glimpse of Shahbaz Ahmed Senior Career’s Final Year That Shook up the World

Shahbaz Ahmed Senior

Pakistani hockey team captain Shehbaz Sr. was invited to a TV show one evening. During the interview, Shahbaz said in a slightly regretful tone that this is the last year of his career and both the Champions Trophy and the World Cup are to be held this year. I want Pakistan to win both of these tournaments under my captaincy. Whoever heard this phrase laughed. It has been twelve years since Pakistan last won the World Cup and fourteen years since they won the Champions Trophy

At the time, Holland, Germany, and Australia ruled the hockey world. In the Olympics some time ago, we were beaten a lot, but in the Asian Games, we were beaten by Korea. The conditions of the hockey team were appalling, and such a wish of the captain could be said to be a wish that had been destroyed.

Shahbaz Ahmed Senior

What happened in the next ten months after that is also the chapter in the world of hockey that, if it had happened in any good country, a dozen movies would have been made about it by now. Pakistan won both tournaments under the leadership of Shahbaz Ahmed Senior. In these competitions, Pakistan played such hockey that there was a distance between the earth and the sky in telling and seeing. Rakim is an eyewitness to all these events. Interviewing Shahbaz and seeing him lift the trophies both times.

Shahbaz Ahmed Senior

Shahbaz Ahmed Senior’s Career-Defining Moment: The 1994 World Cup Victory

Shahbaz Ahmed Senior is considered to be among the best forwards in the history of field hockey. He joined the Pakistan National Hockey Team in 1986 and was captain of the national side, which led his team to the 1994 Men’s Hockey World Cup victory. “He played a major role in Pakistan’s victories in the 1994 World Cup in Sydney, Australia, and the Champions Trophy 1994 in Lahore, Pakistan.” After the Atlanta Games in 1996, he also played for Dutch club Oranje Zwart and German club Harvestehuder THC from Hamburg for a couple of years. 

Awards Earned by Pakistan Legend Shahbaz Ahmed Senior,

Shahbaz Ahmed Senior has represented Pakistan in the Champions Trophy tournaments held in 1986, 1987, 1988, and 1989:

  • 3rd Asia Cup, New Delhi 1989
  • 7th Hockey World Cup, 1990, in Lahore
  • BMW Trophy Amsterdam, 1990
  • 11th Asian Games in Beijing, 1990
  • 12th Champions Trophy, Melbourne
  • Hockey World Cup, Sydney, 1994

Finally, he made his world-famous run-down against Australia in the same tournament. “But in 1994, at the Sydney World Cup, in the pool match between Australia and Pakistan, Australia had a similar free hit just outside the Pakistan circle, which was intercepted and moved onto Pakistan’s Shahbaz Ahmed Senior, who then executed his famous run with Australia’s Ken Wark chasing him. Shahbaz Ahmed Senior drew a covering defender and reverse-sticked the ball to Kamran Ashraf, who scored Twenty years have passed, but the memories of his breathtaking runs against Australia, Germany, and the Netherlands are etched in the memories of millions. He played at three Olympic Games, winning a bronze medal in 1992.

Shahbaz Ahmed Senior

Additionally, Shahbaz Ahmed Senior was declared the best player in the Seventh World Cup, Lahore, 1990, and received the BMW Trophy, Amsterdam, 1990. He won gold medals in the 3rd Asia Cup, New Delhi, 1989; Gold Medal in the Asian Games, Beijing, 1990; and Gold Medal in the 1994 Champions Trophy, Lahore.

He also Gold Medal in the 1994 World Cup, Sydney; a silver medal in the Champions Trophy, 1988; the 7th World Cup, Lahore, 1990; the BMW Trophy, Amsterdam, 1990; and a bronze medal in the 8th Champions Trophy, 1986. He was awarded the best player award at the 1994 World Cup in Sydney as well. He played in the 1998 and 2002 Men’s Hockey World Cups not as a captain but instead as a player.

Shahbaz Ahmed Senior

Recognitions

Shahbaz Ahmad is regarded as one of the best forwards in the game for his agility, body dodge, and ball control. Shahbaz Ahmed Senior is also the only player in the history of field hockey to win two consecutive ‘Player of the Tournament’ awards in the 1990 World Cup in Lahore and at the 1994 World Cup in Sydney. Moreover, he leads the list of most-capped Pakistanis with 304 caps (a total of 304 games) in international field hockey. 

  • Shahbaz Ahmed Senior was decorated with the Hilal-i-Pakistan (Crescent of Pakistan) Award by the President of Pakistan. 
  • In recognition of his outstanding contribution to the field of hockey, he was also awarded the President’s Pride of Performance Award in 1992 by the Government of Pakistan. 
  • Later, Shahbaz Ahmad is known as The Man With the Electric Heels. This is a nickname given to this legendary Pakistani forward player by one and all.

In 2002, Shahbaz Ahmed Senior retired from playing field hockey for good. Later, in 2010, Shahbaz was the district manager of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) in Saudi Arabia. Additionally, in 2015, he was appointed Secretary General of the Pakistan Hockey Federation.

Lastly, Shahbaz Ahmed Senior’s remarkable journey from a talented youngster in Faisalabad to a hockey luminary on the world stage is a testament to his unwavering passion, dedication, and skill. His contributions to the sport have also left an indelible mark on Pakistan’s rich hockey heritage, earning him a revered place in the hearts of fans worldwide. Further, as we reflect on Shahbaz’s extraordinary career, we celebrate not just a player but a legend whose name will forever be etched in the annals of field hockey history.

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