Kolkata: Legendary hockey player Leslie
Claudius on Thursday turned 83 in a quite manner away from home at
his relative`s place in Perth, Australia but he could not
escape from Indian Premier League buzz and thoughts on Sachin
Talking to reporters over phone on this occasion, the former
India captain, whose name is etched in history along with
Udham Singh for having won the maximum number of Olympic
medals (three gold, one silver) in hockey, rued that nobody
remembers him anymore in India forget about his birthdays.
"It`s a biggest surprise to have been remembered on my
birthday. Nobody remembers about us anymore, so there is
hardly any celebration," Claudius said, pleasantly surprised
at the call.
But switched to a conversation on cricket, Claudius
turned out to a huge Sachin Tendulkar fan.
"No doubt, God is great but Sachin Tendulkar supercedes
God when he plays. By doing impossible things, like notching
200 not out (in ODI) at his age is just unimaginable," he
Asked to compare Tendulkar with Sir Don Bradman, Claudius
said, "Sachin will be the greatest player ever no doubt. He is
playing so fluent at this age. He has such an array of
strokes. He is a freak. With age, he is getting better.”
"The greatest quality in him (Sachin) is that he is so
humble, a thorough gentleman. Youngsters should learn this
from him. When you do something with dedication and
perseverance, even if you do not reach great heights you will
end up being satisfied," Claudius said.
The octogenarian hockey legend rued that after India`s
1983 cricket World Cup victory, hockey declined in India. He,
however, was all praise of the IPL concept.
"With the rise of cricket after the 1983 World Cup
success, hockey is the least favoured sport. But IPL is huge
success. It`s fast and nice. We get to see a mixture of
players from all parts of the world and it`s played in the
right spirit. The atmosphere is terrific," he said.
Recollecting the highs and lows in his glorious hockey
career spanning from 1948 to 1965, Claudius said losing to
Pakistan in the final of the 1960 Rome Olympics that denied
him a record four successive gold would be the biggest
disappointment in his illustrious career.
"We were going through an amazing run but only to go down
to Pakistan. It`s a very sad thing," he said.
"But I have no regrets in life. When I first played for
India in 1948, it was a great moment that I will continue to
cherish. It was a glorious era when in India`s sporting
history. I am really proud to be a part of it."
Claudius said he is yet to recover from the shock of his
son Robert`s accidental death in 1978 that had brought an end
to a budding hockey player.
"He was a bright prospect, he was even better than me. It
was few days after returning from 1978 World Cup in Mexico he
left us. He had gone with his friend in a scooter when he died
after a truck collision. He was 20, I`m yet to recover from
it," Claudius said.