Field hockey is one of those sports that you can either play or you have to watch. Not everyone can play and be successful at a game that requires a large amount of physical agility or dedication to improvement. Like many other sports, field hockey is a team sport. Therefore, being a great player requires a good sense of team and innate sportsmanship. No one wants to play any game with a bad sport.
The best players in field hockey have proven that they can be great competitors all while staying true to the team spirit of the game. These best field hockey players are the perfect example of what comes from hard work, a good team spirit, and a dedication to the betterment of the game.
You will quickly notice that there are no US players on this list. Field hockey has yet to gain success and following in the US that it has had for decades in countries such as Australia, India, and even Pakistan.
Here are our picks for the best players of all time:
Undeniably the best player to ever hold a field hockey stick is Dhyan Chand. Winner of three Olympic gold medals and scoring more than 1000 goals, Chand is often referred to as the best athlete in the history of the Olympics.
India born Chand was blessed to be part of one of the best teams to ever play the game and he is highly regarded as being a perfect example of sportsmanship and true Olympic spirit. While many may argue that he would not be the same in the modern game, we disagree and have to honor the legend that he was.
A perfect example of how important sportsmanship is to the game of field hockey, Ric Charlesworth was given the honor of Western Australian Sportsman of the Year three years in a row. He was part of the first Australian Olympic field hockey team and took part in 5 Olympic games over a span of 20 years.
Charlesworth’s love of the game took him past playing and into coaching the sport he loved so much. His charity and dedication to the improvement of the sportsmanship side of the game even earned him a Citizenship award in 2001.
Hassan Sardar, captain of the Pakistan Men’s National Team, helped lead the team to a gold medal in the 1984 Olympics. He is still considered one of the best center forwards to ever play the game and has remained centrally involved in the game since his days of playing.
Teun de Nooijer
Teun de Nooijer is the modern version of Chand (listed above). His dedication to the spirit of the game and competitive drive helped him achieve international fame on two teams, the HC Bloemendall and the Uttar Pradesh Wizards.
Nooijer was a member of the first Dutch national team to compete in the Olympics where he, and his teammates earned a gold medal in 1996 and 2000. He continued to earn medals and ended his career with a record 400 games, playing as pioneer forward.
Perhaps the best modern player in the game, Fergus Kavanagh, has risen quickly on the international stage. Kavanagh was a member of the Australian men’s field hockey team that won the 2010 and 2014 World Cup Championships and helped his national team to Olympic gold and two bronze medals, scoring 14 goals in 191 games played.
Kavanagh spent plenty of time gaining attention for his off the field antics. However, for the most part, we would have to forgive him for having grown up in a more social and worldly visual era than most other players on this list. Regardless, he is still undeniably one of the best modern players in the game.
Another great Australian field hockey player, Jamie Dwyer is a true testament to the game. Dwyer has been credited for being the driving force that leads the Australian national field hockey team to Olympic Gold thanks to his overtime goal for the win.
Dwyer has been honored with 326 caps in his career and scored a total of 215 goals for his team on the international stage as part of the Commonwealth Games. He was honored with the Champions Trophy on six occasions.
Every great field hockey team needs a strong and competitive penalty taker. Ties Kruise is universally accepted as the best to ever play. Part of teams that won Gold in the 1973 World Cup, the 1978 World Cup and a strong member of the Dutch national team that took gold in 1983 and bronze in 1974.
Many critics of the game have argued against Kruize’ designation as the best player of all time. However, we argue that he was a key component of the team during the two hardest decades for the sport. His ability to control his stick as an extension of his hand was proof enough that he earned his spot among the best.
Dhanraj Pillay is one of those players that brings their own unique style and personality to the game. Still, the only player to compete on the Olympic stage in four different years, Pillay is one of the most recognized faces in the game.
As captain of the Indian national team, Pillay led his team to two gold medals and was responsible for 170 scoring goals in an amazing 339 matches on the international stage. Pillay has been honored with an Indian Civilian recognition award known as Padma Shri as well as the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, both in 2000.
Field hockey is easily one of the hardest sports to gain any type of individual success or recognition. The players on this list proved throughout their careers that they could be an integral part of a team and provide both game-winning plays and support their teammates when needed. Field hockey may not be as big of an international sport as others, however, it is arguably one of the most dynamic teams sports around.