KARACHI: With the passing away of hockey icon Anwar Ahmed Khan at his residence on Friday, an era has come to an end. He was amongst those few heroes whose name will remain synonymous with the golden era of Pakistan hockey, particularly the Rome Olympics in 1960.
Affectionately known as Anu or Anu bhai in the sports circles, he was born to late Mohammad Hashim Khan and Noor Jehan begum in Bhopal in 1933. He was fourth amongst five brothers besides an elder sister. His two elder brothers Sultan and Aftab had died while Shamshad and Ansar are fit and healthy. The latter, who is settled in Bhopal, has arrived here recently and was at the bedside of his sibling at the time of his death.
Before migration to Pakistan sometime around 1950-51, he used to play hockey as centre half for Pak Wanders Club and had played with players like Major Shakoor, Habib-ur-Rehman and Latif-ur-Rehman amongst others. He also played in Aligarh for some time.
After coming to Pakistan he settled in Karachi and continued his hard work that eventually brought fruitful results when he was picked in the Pakistan team for pre-Olympic tour in 1954. From then onwards, he remained a regular member of Pakistan hockey team for a stretch of 12 years until he hung up his boots in 1966.
During his illustrious international career, he added many feathers to his cap – the 1960 Rome Olympics gold medal which was country’s first gold medal in Olympics since gaining independence, tops the list. He also had two Olympic silver medals to his name – in 1956 at Melbourne and 1964 at Tokyo – and two Asian Games gold medals in 1958 at Tokyo and 1962 at Jakarta to his credit.
The reputed center-half had a long innings in Customs (preventive) and retired as Assistant Collector in 1993 after serving it for 38 years. He was also a recipient of Tamgha-i-Imtiaz. Anwar also captained Customs hockey team and represented it for many years.
After retiring from international game, the hockey wizard repaid the debt and served the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) in different capacities including manager senior and junior teams and member selection committee.
Anwar managed the 1975 World Cup team that won the silver medal at Kuala Lumpur under the captaincy of Islahuddin. His next managerial assignment at the senior level was 1986 World Cup at Willesden where the greenshirts finished last but one (11th) out of 12 teams. He was also the coach in the 1974 Tehran Asian Games where Pakistan won the gold medal and again in 1986 Seoul Asiad where the team clinched silver after getting beaten by hosts South Korea in the final.
As far as junior team is concerned, Anwar managed the Pakistan team that secured bronze in the 1982 junior World Cup at Kuala Lumpur.
“We’re four players from Karachi who donned Pakistan colours in the 1960 Rome Olympics and three have passed away,” former spearhead Abdul Waheed Khan, whose association with Anwar Ahmed Khan spanned over six decades, told Dawn while mourning his friend’s death. Apart from Anwar, the other two being Habib Ali Kiddie and Khurshid Aslam.
Waheed recalled that it was after Rome Olympics victory that President Field Marshal Mohammad Ayub Khan declared hockey as the national game of Pakistan.
Waheed, who managed the Buenos Aires World Cup gold medal winning team in 1978, termed his late colleague as one of the greatest center-halves ever to have played the game. Waheed, who returned from US after a private visit on Monday, met Anwar in hospital and both rejoiced their meeting. “He was waiting for me to come before leaving for eternal abode,” said Waheed with tears in his eyes.