He is said to be one of the best players in the history of hockey. Many people like to call Pakistan’s Shahbaz Ahmed the ‘Maradona’ of hockey. His brilliant stick work, dribbling, magical rhythm playing are legendary. He came to play for Mohammedan Sporting Club in Dhaka Hockey League in 1997. Tahir Zaman and Kamran Ashraf were with him.
Their duel with the Indian hockey ‘great’ Dhanraj Pillai, who came to serve in Abahani, on the Dhaka field is still remembered by sports lovers. This star, who won the World Cup for the country, recently told Prothom Alo in an interview about the memory of the Dhaka field 23 years ago. Shahbaz remembers the love of the Bangladesh audience, the joy of playing for Mohammedan, and remembers the water in Dhaka.
With so many things, this hockey legend remembered Dhaka’s bottled water! According to him, he used to drink a lot of bottled water during his stay in Dhaka. It became a habit of his, ‘I still miss the bottled water of Dhaka. All the days I was in Dhaka, I used to drink a lot of bottled water. It would have been very nice.
In 1997, the Maulana Bhasani Hockey Stadium in Dhaka was crowded to see Shahbaz’s unique sports style. Shahbaz’s running with the ball on the green astroturf mesmerized the audience. Dhaka’s hockey spectators got the proof of how much grip a hockey player can have on the small white ball in his stick hand.
Did he come to play in Mohammedan or out of some kind of curiosity, I knew the name of Mohammedan club. It was the idea that it was a traditional club. I used to hear from several Pakistani hockey players about Dhaka’s crowded hockey league. Come to play in Mohammedan out of curiosity.
Shahbaz still remembers the Sebar Hockey League match against Abahani, ‘It was a very memorable match. we won Kamran Ashraf scored two goals. Dhanraj Pillai played in Abahani. He was a great player. I felt the thrill of the India-Pakistan fight in that match.
This Pakistani hockey star will never forget Bangladesh chapter. You cannot forget the love of the people of this country, there is no reason to forget the chapter of Bangladesh. How to forget such hospitality, such love of supporters! Bangladesh did not really seem like a foreign country to me at that time.