Dhanraj Pillay

Dhanraj Pillay (born 16 July 1968) is a retired Indian field hockey player and former captain of the Indian national team. He is currently working with Air India Ltd. as Deputy General Manager (DGM). He also looks after the Air India Sports Promotion Board as a Joint Secretary based in Mumbai. Since the last 5 years, Dhanraj is overseeing the SAG Hockey Academy in Gujarat funded by the Gujarat Government. A legend of game, he is regarded as one of the best Indian players.[2]

Dhanraj Pillay
Dhanraj Pillay01.png
Pillay in 2010
Personal information
Full name Dhanraj Pillay
Born (1968-07-16) 16 July 1968 (age 52)
Khadki, Pune, Maharastra, India
Height 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)[1]
Playing position Forward
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1992–1993 Indian Gymkhana 78 (78)
1993 HC Lyon
1994–1997 Selangor HA 7 (8)
1997–1999 Abahani Ltd.
2000 HTC Stuttgart Kickers
2000–2001 Bank Simpanan Nasional HC
2002 Arthur Andersen HC
2002 Singapore Hockey Federation
2006–2008 Maratha Warriors
2012 Karnataka Lions 6 (1)
2004 Ernst & Young HC
2005 Telekom Malaysia HC
National team
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1989–2004 India 339 (170)

Pillay born to a Tamil family made his debut in 1989 with the national team and in a career spanning over 15 years, appeared for India in four Olympic Games, World Cups and Champion Trophies each. He made 339 appearances for the national team and is recorded, unofficially, to have scored 170 goals.[3] He also played for clubs in countries such as Malaysia, France, England and Germany.[4] Recognizing his achievements, he was awarded the Padma Shri by the government of India in 2000.

International careerEdit

Dhanraj Pillay, whose career spanned from December 1989 to August 2004, played 339 international matches. The Indian Hockey Federation did not keep official statistics for the goals scored. There is no credible information on the number of International goals scored by Dhanraj. He scored around 170 goals in his career, according to both him and leading statisticians in the world. He is the only player to have played in four Olympics (1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004), four World Cups (1990, 1994, 1998, and 2002), four Champions Trophies (1995, 1996, 2002, and 2003), and four Asian Games (1990, 1994, 1998, and 2002). India won the Asian Games (1998) and Asia Cup (2003) under his captaincy. He was also the highest goal scorer in the Bangkok Asian Games and was the only Indian player to figure in the World Eleven side during the 1994 World Cup at Sydney.

Club HockeyEdit

He has also played for foreign clubs like the Indian Gymkhana (London), HC Lyon (France), BSN HC & Telekom Malaysia HC (Malaysia), Abahani Limited, HTC Stuttgart Kickers (Germany) and Khalsa Sports Club (Hong Kong). Towards the end of his career, Dhanraj played in the Premier Hockey League for the Maratha Warriors for two seasons.

Dhanraj Pillay turned up for the Karnataka Lions in the World Series Hockey being played in India. He scored two goals for his team, captained by ex-India captain Arjun Halappa. He also played for Indian Airlines in Beighton Cup.[5] He is currently the coach of the same team.


He is the recipient of India's highest sporting honour, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award for the year 1999–2000. He was awarded the Padma Shri, a civilian award in 2001.[6] He was the captain of the 1998 Asian Games and 2003 Asia Cup winning hockey team. He was awarded the player of the tournament award in the 2002 Champions trophy held at Cologne, Germany. In 2017 East Bengal club conferred Pillay with Bharat Gaurav.[7]

Pillay is currently involved in trying to start a hockey academy at Mumbai. To raise funds for his academy he is heading a drive to collect empty plastic printer cartridges in Mumbai and sell them to a European recycling firm.[8] Yes


He joined Aam Aadmi Party in February 2014 and started his political career.[9]


Dhanraj is often described as mercurial and has had his share of controversies. Time and again, he has vented this ire against the Hockey Management. He was not selected for the Indian team after the triumph at the Bangkok Asiad. The official reason given was that Dhanraj and 6 other senior players were rested. But it was largely seen as a retaliation for his outburst against the management for improper reception and non-payment of match fees. He protested against the low team stipend on overseas tours before the 1998 series against Pakistan. On receipt of the Khel Ratna, Pillay commented, "The award will help erase some bitter memories".[10]

His plans to start a hockey academy at Mumbai have not taken off fully as Mumbai Hockey Association has refused to allow its astroturf facility to be used for training.[11]


Pillay's biography, Forgive Me Amma, written by journalist Sundeep Misra, who tracked his career for over two decades, released in 2007.[12][13]


  1. ^ "Dhanraj Pillay". Dimdima. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  2. ^ "'This will be my last Olympics. I have to go all out and prove that I am the best'". rediff.com. 27 July 2000. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  3. ^ "Dhanraj Pillay's 48th birthday: Some interesting facts that you should know". India Today. 15 July 2016. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  4. ^ Marar, Nandakumar (12 October 2002). "Power and magic". The Hindu. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  5. ^ http://www.rediff.com/sports/2007/apr/10hock.htm
  6. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 November 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  7. ^ "East Bengal honours Dhanraj Pillay with Bharat Gaurav". The Hindu. 3 August 2017. Retrieved 16 September 2017.
  8. ^ "Dhanraj Pillay to set up new hockey academy – The Times of India". Timesofindia.indiatimes.com. 25 June 2001. Retrieved 4 May 2011.
  9. ^ "Dhanraj Pillai, Jaspinder Narula join AAP". Hindustan Times. New Delhi. 18 February 2014. Retrieved 19 February 2014.
  10. ^ "Profile: Dhanraj Pillai: Dribbling Towards Gold". India-today.com. Archived from the original on 24 November 2010. Retrieved 4 May 2011.
  11. ^ "The Hindu: Pillay's project suffers setback". Hinduonnet.com. 22 July 2001. Archived from the original on 5 August 2009. Retrieved 4 May 2011.
  12. ^ "Dhanraj Pillay eyes coaching role post-retirement". The Times of India. 17 May 2007. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  13. ^ Ugra, Sharda (11 June 2007). "A Stick in Time". India Today. Retrieved 10 February 2017.

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