New Delhi: In a flood of tribute for legendary hockey player Mohammad Shahid, Pakistan team admitted that Shahid was the toughest opponent to play against, with superb dribbling skills.
"I would tell him that if you join Pakistan team, we would be world beaters and he used to say the same for me," was how Pakistan's legendary centre forward Hasan Sardar reacted on the demise of Indian hockey great Mohammad Shahid.
Accolades poured in from across the border for Shahid as two past masters from Pakistan, Sardar and Samiullah, recalled how they were keen competitors on the field, and friends off it.
Shahid, 56, who was being treated in a private hospital in Gurugram, passed away on Wednesday due to multiple organ failure.
"Shahid was one of the rarest players who possessed superb dribbling skills without compromising on speed. This was a rare combination. I have not seen many dribblers like him," Sardar, who scored a hat trick in Pakistan's famouse 7-1 win over India in the 1982 Delhi Asian Games final, told PTI Bhasha from Karachi.
The 1980 Olympic gold medallist 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. Shahid breathed his last at 10:45 this morning.
Sardar said, "Since we were playing for our countries, we always wanted to beat each other, but we were close friends off the field. Shahid was not only a great player but an amazing human being as well. We have so many fond memories of him," he added.
Another legendary player from Pakistan, Samiullah, who was captain of the 1982 Asian Games gold medal winning team, said that they had to draw specific strategy to control Shahid and Zafar Iqbal, who were in top form those days.
"I was captaining the team and was very well aware of how difficult it would be to defeat India in final in front of their home crowd. Zafar and Shahid were in top form and I remember that we made special plans to control them and succeed.
Samiullah said that despite the defeat, Zafar and Shahid formed one of the best attacking combinations in the world.
"We won the final but there is no doubt that Zafar and Shahid were one of the best attacking combinations in the world that time. It was a sheer joy to watch them play. Shahid came to Pakistan during 1982 Asia Cup in Karachi and we became good friends. I suggested him to take care of his health when I met him in 2004," he recalled.
Zafar, Hasan, Kalimullah were among those players because of whom India and Pakistan ruled world Hockey in the 70s and 80s, Samiullah said.
Sardar said that Shahid was so saddened with the Asiad defeat that he did not speak to them for a few days during a tournament in Australia.
"We went to Melbourne immediately after Asiad to take part in Esanda Cup. Indian team was also there and Shahid was a part of that team. He was so angry and sad with the defeat that did not speak for a few days. India won the cup defeating us in the final and he said that this should have been the result in Asiad," said Sardar.
(With inputs from PTI)