New Delhi [India], May 25 (ANI): Indian men's hockey team skipper Manpreet Singh on Monday said that the passing away of legend Balbir Singh is truly a sad day for the sport of hockey as he will always be admired across generations.
He also said that Balbir Singh always carried himself with grace and added that he used to get goosebumps whenever the hockey legend used to talk about the game.
"It is indeed a very sad day for hockey and our country. One of the most respectable, inspiring, and ever-so-gracious souls has left us today, and I'm extremely saddened by the demise of this true legend," Manpreet told ANI.
"I remember always getting goosebumps whenever I would meet him and get the chance to listen to his extraordinary experiences, I always want to be like him. His contribution to Indian hockey will always be cherished and admired across generations. May his soul rest in peace," he added.
Indian women's hockey team captain Rani Rampal also said that the contribution of Balbir Singh is immense to the sport in the country. She also said that Balbir Singh always had the best encouraging words.
"It is with a heavy heart that I remember the legend, the greatest, Balbir Sir. Being a triple Olympic Gold medallist, his contribution to Indian hockey has remained immense throughout his glorious career, not just on the field, but off it as well," Rani told ANI.
"I was very fortunate to have heard some words of wisdom from him whenever I met him, and I can't express in words how much it always meant to me. He always greeted everyone with such humility and it's extremely unfortunate that the world has lost a gem today. May his soul rest in peace," she added.
The veteran hockey player had suffered a cardiac arrest on May 12 and after that, he suffered two more cardiac arrests during the course of his admission in the hospital.
"Balbir Singh passed away this morning," his grandson Kabir said in a statement on Monday.
Balbir Singh was a three-time Olympic gold champion. He played a key role in India's Olympic victories in London (1948), as a vice-captain in Helsinki (1952) and as the captain in Melbourne (1956).
In his illustrious playing career from 1947-1958, Balbir Sr. won 61 international caps and scored a whopping 246 goals. He was also the manager of the 1975 World Cup-winning team.
As vice-captain of the team in 1952, he scored a hat-trick against Britain in the semifinals and five of India's goals in its 6-1 win against Holland in the final.
It is the record for the most goals in an Olympic Games hockey final.
He was also named as one of the 16 Iconic Olympians by the International Olympic Committee in 2012. (ANI)