By Syed Khalid Mahmood
Islahuddin Siddiqui was known and feared, in his playing days, for his extraordinary ability to dash that blocked the penalty-corners and frustrated the specialists who wreaked havoc against other opponents.
It’s quite appropriate that the autobiography of the legendary right-winger has been titled
‘Dash Through My Life’ that was launched in one of the most impressive of ceremonies at Hotel Pearl Continental, Karachi, on November 25. After all there was a time when Islahuddin and dash were synonyms.
The book has been co-authored by Humair Ishtiaq, a seasoned journalist, whose writing skills are among the best in the business.
The book launch functions are generally not all that lively or so well attended but then Islahuddin is no ordinary personality. Besides being a hockey great, he has held a very high position in Pakistan Customs but most importantly he has had a large circle of all-weather friends.
Quite expectedly the turnout in Islahuddin’s book launch was massive and impressive. It was a gathering of hundreds of luminaries from different walks of life, reflective of the versatility of the author.
There were numerous hockey legends gracing the occasion and recognizing publicly the great contribution made by Islahuddin over the years. The stalwarts of the yesteryears like Olympians Anwar Ahmad Khan and Abdul Waheed Khan showered him with praise for having taken the world by storm
Olympian Waheed Khan described Islahuddin as a lethal weapon who was proficient in denying European teams goals through penalty-corners.
“He was always there to block the penalty-corners. He did not care even if he was having a broken finger or broken teeth. He was instrumental in guiding the team to title victories in the World Cup as well as the Asia Cup in 1978,” Waheed Khan, who was the Pakistan manager in both the events, recalled.
Olympian Anwar Ahmed Khan credited Islahuddin for having revived the Pakistan hockey after the golden era that began in the late 1950s and lasted until the middle of the 1960s.
“Our team of 1950s and 1960s had set very high standards with the Olympic gold at Rome in 1960 and silver medals at Melbourne in 1956 and at Tokyo in 1964. We also won the Asian gold during this period in 1958 and 1962. We were unsure if we would recapture these glories. The arrival of Islahuddin put Pakistan back on track and history repeated itself with titles coming in our kitty one after another,” Anwar Ahmad Khan, acclaimed as the greatest-ever centre-half the game ever has seen, observed.
‘Flying Horse’ Samiullah Khan, one of the most illustrious contemporaries of Islahuddin, considered him an inspirational captain.
Hasan Sardar, another living legend, who stunned everyone with his artistic play in the hockey field, was no less generous in eulogizing the great Islahuddin.
The Sindh Minister for Sports, Dr Mohammad Ali Shah, who was the chief guest of the evening, threw light on the different aspects of Islahuddin’s personality as did squash legend Jahangir Khan, cricket great Zaheer Abbas and MNA Khushbakht Shujaat.
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