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Hockey legend Saeed Anwar passes away

July 16, 2004

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KARACHI, July 15: Pakistan hockey legend Saeed Anwar died Thursday morning in a Sheikhupura hospital after suffering from paralysis.

The Olympian, who was hospitalised after a stroke a week ago, was in his late 60s and also coached Pakistan senior and junior teams.

Saeed, a right-half of 1960s and 70s Pakistan teams, was affectionately known as 'Ustad' in the hockey circles for his innovations and useful tips which he passed on to greats including Shahnaz Sheikh, Abdul Rashid Jr, and Hanif Khan.

He was also a part of 1964 Tokyo Games squad that earned the silver and had the honour of being the member of 1968 Mexico Olympic side that won the second hockey gold for Pakistan.

Saeed also won the silver at 1972 Munich Olympics. The gold at 1970 Asian Games in Bangkok was his another achievement. "Saeed was truly a legend. He was innovative and a perfect right-half, a complete player. It was him who introduced attack in the half-line.

"So dashing was he that he also used to operate as front-line player despite playing in the half-line. Although he was right- half, I never saw such ball control and excellent feeding in any player in the half-line except Saeed," Shahnaz said.

Rashid, a former centre-half, was full of praise and respect for Saeed, saying he was a perfect right-half who knew his job well and was always willing to guide his juniors.

"I have the honour of playing along with him, although he was senior to me and like a elder brother. I have no qualms in saying that he was my mentor and that is why all and sundry called him Ustad," Rashid said.

Hanif, said though he did not play along with Saeed, he would remember him as one of the great players and his tutor. "He was a hockey school and a trendsetter, full of innovative ideas. I will always remember him as my teacher. There is no alternative. The gap produced after his retirement and death could never be bridged.

"Pakistan will not have such a fine player again. He should have been made the chief of the hockey academy. Unfortunately, nobody took advantage of his coaching abilities," Hanif lamented.