“It was the greatest rush of emotion and pride.”
On the field, Pakistan is a powerhouse for producing record-breaking and successful Pakistani hockey players.
When one thinks of the sport, the iconic line of Antoine de Saint-Exupery comes to mind:
“Field Hockey – A facet of life so undeniably appreciated in our society, I would wish it to one of the last things I think before I die.”
This can be said for many Pakistani fans who continue to live and breathe hockey, especially with it being the national sport of Pakistan.
More importantly, many will remember the heroics of Pakistani hockey players on the world stage.
The skills of these Pakistani hockey players made the impossible, possible. Through sheer grit, determination and patriotism, these hockey players became overnight stars.
The contribution of these individuals saw Pakistan winning every trophy and beating arch-rivals India on many occasions.
We showcase the 25 best Pakistani hockey players who represented par excellence on the field.
Brigadier retired Abdul Hamid was one of the most energetic former Pakistani hockey players.
Familiar to many as Hamidi, he was born in Bannu, British India (present-day Pakistan), on January 7, 1927.
He represented Pakistan during four Olympic Games (1948, 1952, 1956), playing in the inside right position.
He made history at the 1960 Rome Olympics as Pakistan beat India 1-0 in the final under his leadership. This is the first time Pakistan had won Olympic gold.
The match took place at the Olympic Velodrome, Rome, Italy, on September 9, 1960.
Acting as a target shooter, Abdul Hamid was also a prolific scorer throughout the tournament. He scored six goals including four against Japan in the Group B encounter.
He was a master strategist, developing a plan of attack with his outside right and right half to simultaneously trouble the opposition.
His strategy was also fruitful in creating openings for Pakistan to score important goals.
In recognition of his accomplishments in the sport, he was honoured with the 1960 Pride of Performance Award.
Abdul Hamid sadly left this world in Rawalpindi, Punjab, Pakistan, on July 11, 2019.
Manzoor Hussain Atif
Manzoor Hussain Atif was one of the most fortunate Pakistani former hockey players to represent his country at multiple Olympic Games.
He was born in Gujrat, Punjab, Pakistan, on September 4, 1928. Manzoor was part of the winning team to clinch gold at the 1960 Rome Olympics and the 1962 Jakarta Asian Games.
He scored a crucial goal to defeat Spain in the semi-finals of the 1960 Games. Off-field, Manzoor retired as a Brigadier in the Pakistan Armed Forces.
For over ten years, he was the secretary of the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) and Vice-President of the Asian Hockey Federation.
Manzoor was conferred with the 1963 Pride of Performance Award for Sports. The Asian Hockey Federation also honoured him with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Manzoor breathed his last in Rawalpindi, Punjab, Pakistan on December 8, 2008.
Noor Alam was one of the most potent former Pakistani hockey players.
The outside right forward was born Noor Alam Ripon in Talagang British India (present-day Pakistan), on December 5, 1929.
With his moves, Pakistan was often scoring goals. His most memorable came in the 1960 Rome Olympics gold triumph for Pakistan.
He became one of the heroes as his cross was met by Naseer Bunda who hit the ball past the Indian goalie.
Noor scored a goal each in victories against Australia (3-0) and Poland (8-0) during the Group B phase of the competition.
He was also part of the successful Pakistan team, which won gold at the 1958 Tokyo and 1962 Jakarta Asian Games.
Noor died in Rawalpindi, Punjabi Pakistan on June 30, 2003.
Habib Al Kiddie
Habib Al Kiddie is one of the most supreme former Pakistani players on the hockey field to play in the left-half position.
He was born in Delhi, British India, on December 7, 1929. An extremely gifted and confident player, Habib had a good understanding with centre-half Anwar Ahmed Khan.
This was really useful in handing all the tough teams as the two formed a strong wall. They were very effective in blocking the likes of lethal Indian striker Balbir Singh.
He played a significant part in Pakistan clinching gold at the 1958 Tokyo Asian Games, 1960 Rome Olympics and 1962 Jakarta Asian Games.
In the 1958 Asian Games, he had an outstanding performance in the final, preventing India from scoring.
Pakistan won the competition, courtesy of topping the group.
Naseer Bunda was one of the most legendary former Pakistani hockey players. He was born Naseer Ahmed Bunda in Rawalpindi Punjab, Pakistan, on May 15, 1932.
Naseer was unique in that he mostly played the sport without any footwear. He played the game without any fear.
Naseer scored the historic goal for Pakistan to clinch their first-ever Olympic gold medal in field hockey.
After scoring the goal in the sixth minute, India was unable to respond at the 1960 Rome Olympics.
Earlier, he scored two key goals to defeat the United Team of Germany 2-0 in the last eight.
Naseer received his second gold with Pakistan at the 1962 Jakarta Asian Games. He scored twice in the semi-final clash against Malaya (5-0) in this tournament on September 2, 1962.
Naseer was honoured with the 1962 Pride of Performance award. Nasser died in his birth city on March 20, 1993.
Anwar Ahmed Khan
Anwar Ahmed Khan was an exceptional former centre half, known as the “Rock of Gibraltar.” He was born Anwar Ahmed ‘Anu’ Khan in Bhopal, British India, on September 24, 1933.
He was brilliant when Pakistan collected gold at the 1958 Tokyo Asian Games.
Anwar was one of the key planners for Pakistan as they went on to register a historic victory over India in the 1960 Olympics final.
As part of their winning campaign, Anwar had scored a goal in their 10-0 win against Japan. This was during their Group B encounter.
He was also instrumental in Pakistan being gold triumphant at the 1962 Jakarta Asian Games. He was very strong defensively in this tournament, giving no space to the Indians.
Pakistan overcame India 2-0 in this match to claim gold at the Senayan Hockey Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia, on September 3, 1962.
Post-retirement, Anwar took on the role of Pakistan hockey manager and coach. He was a recipient of the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz (Award of Excellence).
Anwar sadly passed away in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan on May 2, 2014.
Munir Dar was one of the best former Pakistani hockey players to take the full-back position. He was born Munir Ahmed Dar in Amritsar, British India, on March 28, 1935.
In the crucial league game featuring Pakistan and India at the 1958 Tokyo Asian Games, Munir had his say.
He was pivotal in stopping his arch-rivals to score, as Pakistan took gold, courtesy of a superior goal average.
Munir was equally good when Pakistan bagged gold medals at the 1960 Rome Olympics and the 1962 Jakarta Asian Games.
The Pakistan Olympic Association inducted him into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
In 2015, received the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz (Award of Excellence). Munir departed this world in Lahore. Punjab, Pakistan on June 1, 2011.
Abdul Waheed Khan
Abdul Waheed Khan was one of the most flamboyant former Pakistani hockey players. The centre forward was born in Rajpur, Madhya Pradesh, India, on November 30, 1936.
Abdul Waheed was a clever player, who was able to pass the ball well. He found the back of the goal in wins over Poland (8-0) and Japan (10-0).
This was during the successful 1960 Rome Olympics. He was also leading from the front for Pakistan when they secured gold at the 1962 Jakarta Asian Games.
Abdul Waheed had a seventeen goals record at the 1962 Asian Games. This includes a hattrick versus Malaya in the last four stages of the tournament.
He also scored a goal in the gold medal win against India.
Post-playing days, he had a fantastic record as national team manager. In 1980, Pakistan won the World Cup, Asian Games and Champions Trophy under his tenure.
Abdul Waheed was sadly no more, passing away in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan, on February 21, 2022.
Tanvir Dar was one of the top former Pakistani hockey players in the right full-back position.
He was born Tanvir Ahmed Dar in Amritsar, British India, on June 4, 1937.
The strongly built Tanvir was the brother of Munir Dar. He was a handful for most opposing forwards, dismantling their dangerous moves.
Besides, being a source of inspiration in defence, he was the go-to man when it came to penalty corners.
He was part of the national team, which were gold victorious at the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games and the 1970 Bangkok Asian Games.
Pakistan defeated Australia 2-1 at the 1968 Olympics on October 26. The match took place at the Municipal Stadium, Mexico City, Mexico.
At the 1970 Asian Games, Pakistan narrowly beat India 1-0 after extra time at the National Stadium, Bangkok, Thailand on December 19.
He was also instrumental in Pakistan lifting the inaugural 1971 Hockey World Cup.
Tanvir was the top goal scorer in the tournament with eight goals.
This includes two double hat-tricks, with one coming in the win over Australia (5-2). The other came in the 3-3 draw with the Netherlands.
In a close encounter, Pakistan beat Spain 1-0 to become world champions on October 24, 1971. The match was held at the Real Club de Polo in Barcelona, Spain.
In 1971, Tanvir received the Pride of Performance Award. Tanvir lost his battle with illness, passing away in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan on February 11, 1998.
Tariq Niazi was amongst the top former Pakistani hockey players. He was born pre-partition on March 15, 1940, in Mianwali, British India (present-day Pakistan).
Tariq was seen in the flying colours of Pakistan between 1961 and 1969. He performed well for Pakistan on tour to East Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania).
Tariq was a member of the Pakistan team, which won gold at the 1962 Jakarta Asian Games. He played a significant role in the Jakarta final against India.
Six years later, he struck gold with the Green Shirts, as they became the 1968 Mexico Olympic champions.
He had stunning and memorable performances through the Olympics winning campaign.
After hanging up his boots, he also became manager and coach of the Pakistan team. The Tariq Niazi Hockey Stadium was named after him in Mianwali.
On April 2, 2008, Tariq died following a heart attack. He was buried in his Mianwali ancestral graveyard.
Khalid Mahmood is one of the most versatile former Pakistani hockey players. The outside right hockey player was born on December 28, 1941.
He was a natural leader, always coming up with trumps at the right time. He was a gold medallist with Pakistan at the 1968 Mexico Olympics and the 1970 Bangkok Asian Games.
However, his biggest moment came when he led Pakistan to gold glory at the first-ever Hockey World Cup in 1971.
At one point Pakistan was struggling in the tournament. It was only when Japan shocked Netherlands 1-0 that the Green Shirts came back in the mix.
Khalid told the Sportstar Hindu it was at this point that the “cup is ours.”
Khalid was a straightforward individual, who never minced his words.
He was also a good manager, as Pakistan won the 1979 Esanda Cup, 1980 Karachi Champions Trophy and the 1982 New Delhi Asian Games under his guidance.
Islahuddin Siddique is one of the most innovative former Pakistani hockey players. The inside right forward was born in Meerut, India on January 10, 1948.
Besides being a right-winger, Islahuddin had the ability to block penalty corners. Hence, he was good at scoring goals and also saving them for his side.
He tasted big success with Pakistan as they claimed gold at the 1970 Bangkok Asian Games, 1971 Hockey World Cup and 1974 Tehran Asian Games.
Pakistan convincingly beat India 2-0 in the 1974 final at Aryamehr Hockey Field, Tehran, on September 15.
However, the best was yet to come, as he became a very successful skipper.
He guided Pakistan to the perfect grand slam, winning the Buenos Aires Hockey World Cup, Bangkok Asian Games and Lahore Champions Trophy all in 1978.
In a close affair, Pakistan defeated the Netherlands in the World Cup final at Campo de Pole, Buenos Aires, Argentina, on April 1, 1978.
This was Pakistan’s second hockey World Cup trophy.
Islahuddin received recognition for his efforts on the hockey field. He was honoured with the 1982 Pride of Performance Award.
He also was conferred with the 2010 Sitara-i-Imtiaz Award (Star of Excellence).
Shahnaz Sheikh is one of the most powerful former Pakistan hockey players. The forward was born in Sialkot, Punjab, Pakistan, on March 21, 1949.
His all-round skills kept opposition teams on their toes for most of the duration. He was the core player of the Pakistan team, which was a force in the 70s.
He had gold medals galore, collecting them in every big hockey competition.
This includes two World Cups (1978 Buenos Aires, 1982 Mumbai) three Asian Games (1974 Tehran, 1978 Bangkok, 1982 New Delhi) and one Champions Trophy (1978 Lahore).
He was the Pakistan national team coach in 2015. He was also the coach of the Pakistan Junior side, which became the Junior Asia Cup champions.
Shahnaz was honoured with the prestigious Pride of Performance award.
Munawwar-uz-Zaman was one of the greatest former Pakistani hockey players in the left full-back position.
He was born on July 2, 1951. As a fullback, he had phenomenal anticipation and recovery skills. In 1980, he led Pakistan to a record twenty-three consecutive wins.
He secured a crucial goal against India (2-1) in the semi-final of the 1971 Hockey World Cup. The game was held on October 22, 1971. He was a multiple gold medallist at the highest level.
This includes winning two World Cups (1971 Barcelona, 1978 Buenos Aires) and two Asian Games (1974 Tehran, 1978 Bangkok).
A cardiac arrest suddenly took his life at the age of fourty-three. He passed away in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan, on July 28, 1994.
In recognition of his services to Pakistan, Munawar was presented a post-humous Pride of Performance Award (1980).
Samiullah Khan is one of the most spectacular former Pakistani hockey players. He was born in Bahawalpur, Punjab, Pakistan, on September 6, 1951.
Known for his panther speed, he was nicknamed, ‘The Flying Horse.’ Posing a threat to all sides, he was unstoppable.
He was a prize asset when Pakistan won gold medals in the biggest tournaments.
This includes two World Cups (1978 Buenos Aires, 1982 Mumbai) three Asian Games (1974 Tehran, 1978 Bangkok, 1982 New Delhi) and one Champions Trophy (1980 Karachi)
He was the captain of the victorious side which, won the 1982 New Delhi Asian Games.
Pakistan gave India a real thumping, beating them 7-1 in the final at the Shivaji Stadium, New Delhi, India, on December 1, 1982.
Samiullah also went on to manage the Pakistan team post-retirement. In 1983 he was conferred with the Pride of Performance Award.
Then in 2014, he received the Sitara-i-Imtiaz (Star of Excellence).
Akhtar Rasool is one of the most highly capable former Pakistani hockey players. The centre half was born in Faisalabad, Punjab, Pakistan, on January 13, 1954.
Akhar was a good player when it came to distributing the ball. He received his first gold medal with Pakistan when they clinched the inaugural 1971 Hockey World Cup title.
He went on to collect many other gold medals at various competitions.
This includes two Asian Games (1974 Tehran, 1978 Bangkok) and two Hockey World Cups (1978 Buenos Aires, 1982 Mumbai)
He was the Pakistan captain when they beat West Germany 3-1 in the 1982 final to become world champions for the third time.
The final match took place at the Mahindra Hockey Stadium, on January 12, 1982.
In recognition of his contribution to hockey, he was honoured with the 1983 Pride of Performance Award.
After finishing playing, Akhtar served as the President of the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF).
Hasan Sardar is one of the most artistic former Pakistani hockey players. He was born in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan, on October 22, 1957.
The talented centre forward was known to thrill spectators on the hockey field. He was good at creating opportunities for himself and others, including scoring goals at decisive times.
As a highly fit player, even the western teams had a difficult time marking him.
Hasan was majestic at the 1982 Mumbai Hockey World Cup, winning gold as part of the Pakistan team.
He scored eleven goals in the tournament, including one in the final against West Germany. His goals tally earned him the man of the tournament award.
Hasan was also magnificent at the 1982 New Delhi Asian Games. He scored a hat-trick in the final versus India.
Additionally, Hasan spearheaded the Pakistan attack, which won gold at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.
Pakistan beat West Germany 2-1 in the Los Angeles final on August 11, 1984. Weingart Stadium, Lose Angeles, USA was the venue for this nail-biting game, which went to extra time.
Pakistan had regained Olympic gold after sixteen years. He was also the top scorer in the tournament with ten goals, including one in the final.
In 1984, Hasan was presented the Pride of Performance Award. In 2014, he also received the Sitara-i-Imtiaz (Star of Excellence).
Kaleemullah Khan is one of the most distinguished former Pakistani Hockey players.
The winger was born in Bahawalpur, Punjab, Pakistan, on January 2, 1958. He was a younger brother to Samiullah.
He was an intelligent inside right who had good accuracy when it came to his crosses. His fast passes often gave the opposition a tough time
He was impressive in the 1979 Escanda Cup, with Pakistan eventually lifting the trophy.
Kaleemullah was also part of the Pakistan side that picked gold at the Mumbai World Cup and New Delhi Asian Games in 1982.
More importantly, he scored historic goals in both of the 1982 finals. He also collected a gold medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.
The same year he received the Pride of Performance Award from the President of Pakistan.
Manzoor Hussain Junior
Manzoor Hussain Junior is one of the most record-breaking former Pakistani hockey players.
The Lahore resident who belongs to a Kashmiri Rajput family was born in Sialkot, Punjab, Pakistan, on October 28, 1958.
His record tally consisted of fifteen gold medals across six global hockey competitions. Out of the fifteen, he received two gold medals as captain.
He was part of the national team for the 1978 Buenos Aires Hockey World Cup, which Pakistan won.
Manzoor went on to play a major role in helping Pakistan to win the 1982 Mumbai Hockey World Cup. He scored six goals in that tournament.
Many will remember his fabulous stickwork in the final against West Germany.
He went past six West Germany players, covering a seventy yards distance to find the back of the net.
Manzoor was outstanding at the 1978 Buenos Aires and 1982 Mumbai Asian Games.
Pakistan had clinched gold in both tournaments, with Manzoor scoring twice in the 1982 edition. Manzoor was also clinical for Pakistan when securing gold at world hockey events.
This includes two Champions Trophy (1978 Lahore, 1980 Karachi) and one Asia Cup (1982 Karachi)
His biggest moment came when he led Pakistan to victory at the 1984 Olympic Games. Manzoor received the 1984 Pride of Performance Award.
Hanif Khan is one of the classiest former Pakistani hockey players. The inside left was born in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan, on July 5, 1959.
He was good at causing devastation to the oppositional defence. On his day, he had the ability to single handily win a match.
Hanif was known for his amazing body dodges and sharp speed.
He was a frequent member of the very successful Pakistan team that came on top at the World Cups (1978, 1982) and Asian Games (1978, 1982).
Haanif also was part of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics gold-winning team. He scored three goals in the tournament, including one in the final.
He received the 1984 Pride of Performance Award. In 2014, he was awarded the Sitara-i-Imtiaz (Star of Excellence).
Shahid Ali Khan
Shahid Ali Khan is one of the finest former Pakistani hockey players as a goalie. He was born in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan, on December 16, 1964.
Shahid had proudly worn the green shirt for more than a decade, flying the flag of his country. He became an instant star in the final of the 1982 Mumbai Hockey World Cup.
Keeping control on his nerves, Shahid stopped a penalty stroke in the final against West Germany.
To save the penalty, at the age of eighteen had shown that he was a big-match player.
He collected his second gold medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. During his playing days, he had over 135 caps.
Shahid went on to become coach of the Pakistan hockey team post-retirement.
Mansoor Ahmed was one of the top Pakistani hockey players as a goalkeeper. He was born in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan, on May 12, 1968.
Besides the Olympic Games, he won gold in every other world hockey event.
He initially bagged gold medals at one Asia Cup (1989 New Delhi) and one Asian Games (1990 Beijing).
The Beijing Asian Games had taken place at the Olympic Sports Centre, Beijing, China.
However, his biggest gold accomplishments came in the mid-90s.
Firstly it was a yellow metal at the 1994 Lahore Champions Trophy, followed by gold at the 1994 Sydney Hockey World Cup.
Pakistan defeated West Germany in the 1994 Lahore final at the Lahore National Hockey Stadium, on March 25, 1994.
The match level at 2- 2, was decided on penalty strokes, which Pakistan won 7-6.
In 1988, he received the President Award for his outstanding performances in field hockey. In 1994, he was presented with the Pride of Performance Award.
He lost his life at fifty due to heart ailments, dying in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan on May 12, 2018.
Shahbaz Ahmed is one of the most super former Pakistani hockey players.
Famous as the ‘Maradona of Hockey’ he was born in Faisalabad, Punjab, Pakistan, on September 1, 1968.
The inside left forward also familiar as Shahbaz Ahmed Senior was the architect for most Pakisanni victories during the modern era.
He was part of the Asia Cup team, which won gold after defeating India 2-0 in the final. Shahbaz scored the first goal for Pakistan in New Delhi on December 28, 1999.
He collected gold with Pakistan as they clinched the 1994 Lahore Champions Trophy. Shahbaz scored twice in the tournament, including once in the final.
Shahbaz then led Pakistan to their fourth Hockey World Cup title in Sydney. They beat Germany 5-3 on penalties after the match had finished 1-1.
Pakistan held their nerves to rule the world at the Homebush Stadium, Sydney, Australia, on December 4, 1994.
For Shahbaz, it was double celebrations, with him being declared the ‘Best Player’ of the competition.
Shahbaz told The Express Tribune what it meant to win the World Cup:
“It was the greatest rush of emotion and pride.”
He was presented with the 1992 Pride of Performance Award in recognition of his outstanding services to field hockey. He was also honoured with the Hilal-i-Pakistan (Crescent of Pakistan).
Waseem Ahmad is one of the brightest former Pakistani hockey players in the left-half position.
He was born in Vehari, Punjab, Pakistan on April 10, 1977. He enjoyed his first major success with Pakistan when the Green Shirts won the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games.
Pakistan overcame Malaysia in the final to lift the trophy in Guangzhou, China.
Two years later, he collected another gold medal when Pakistan became the 2012 Doha Asian Champions Trophy winners.
In a very nerve-wracking encounter, Pakistan defeated India 5-4 at the Al-Rayan Stadium, Doha, Qatar, on December 27, 2012.
Each time Pakistan went ahead, India came back. At 4-4, Pakistan had finally broken the shackles with a fifth and final goal of the game.
Waseem went on to collect the Tamgha-i-Imtiaz (Award of Excellence).
Sohail Abbas is one of the most creative former Pakistani hockey players. The world’s greatest flicker was born in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan on June 9, 1977.
He was popular as the ‘King of the Drag Flick’, making him the ultimate penalty corner specialist. It was his speed and accuracy which made him the master of penalty corners.
He became the first player in the history of hockey to score 300 goals.
His total tally was also simply world-class, scoring 348 goals from 311 appearances.
He won a gold each at the 1999 and 2003 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup held in Kuala Lumpur. Sohail was the top scorer in the 1999 competition, with twelve goals.
He also scored in the final, defeating South Korea 3-0 at National Hockey Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, on April 10, 1999.
With five goals, he was also the top scorer in the 2003 tournament. Pakistan beat Germany 1-0 in the final at the Azlan Shah Stadium, on March 30, 2003.
He also went on to secure a gold medal at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games. Sohail himself scored a goal in the final, courtesy of a penalty corner.
There are some notable omissions from our list. This includes Akhar Hussain, Habib-ur-Rahman, Latif-ur-Rahman, and Manzoor-ul-Hasan Senior.
So, that was our list of all-time best Pakistani hockey players. They all played like genuine gentlemen during the golden period of Pakistani hockey.
All the aforementioned Pakistani hockey players are inspirational on all fronts. They have massively made Pakistan proud, with their on-field memories remaining with fans forever.