Former Indian hockey team captain MP Ganesh on Monday expressed grief over the demise of Balbir Singh Sr, who passed away this morning at the age of 95 after battling multiple health issues.
Ganesh said Singh was a 'very big' hockey player and he learnt a lot from him.
"Balbir Singh was really a great person and a very big hockey player in India. He has three gold medals in his feather. He also captained India. He was such a nice person," Ganesh told ANI.
"He always liked me. I learnt a lot under his guidance. Today, he is not with us, which is really sad. I hope his soul rest in peace and my condolences are with his family. It is a sad day for hockey," he added.
The veteran hockey player had suffered a cardiac arrest on May 12. After that, he suffered two more cardiac arrests during the course of his admission to 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-medal winning 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 Singh won 61 international caps and scored a whopping 246 goals.
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 a record for the most goals in an Olympic Games hockey final. He was also the manager of the 1975 World Cup-winning team and was named as one of the 16 iconic Olympians by the International Olympic Committee in 2012.
For Balbir Singh's stellar contribution to the game, he was awarded the Padma Shri, India's fourth-highest civilian honour in 1957 and was conferred with the Major Dhyan Chand Life Time Achievement Award by Hockey India in 2014. (ANI)