Sohail Abbas

Sohail Abbas, (born 9 June 1977) is a former professional field hockey player from Pakistan who played as a Full-back. Regarded as one of the greatest player of all time he is the highest goal scorer in international field hockey with 348 international goals.[1] A drag-flick specialist noted for his lethal flicks with great accuracy and speed in front of goal from penalty corners he is widely regarded as the 'King of the drag flick'.[2][3]

Sohail Abbas
Personal information
Born (1977-06-09) 9 June 1977 (age 45)
Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan
Playing position Defender Full-back
Senior career
Years Team
1997-2002 Habib Bank
2002 BS Nasional HC
2003-2017 WAPDA
2003-2004 Harvestehuder THC
2005 Hyderabad Sultans
2005-2009 HC Rotterdam
National team
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1998-2012 Pakistan 311 (348)
Last updated on: 9 August 2012

Abbas started his professional career in Pakistan and played professional hockey in Malaysia, Netherlands, Germany and India in his career most notably for Dutch side HC Rotterdam. After representing Pakistan at junior levels Abbas made his international debut in the Test series against India in February 1998. He scored his first senior international goal in the second match of the series in a 2–1 win. Abbas has 315 caps for Pakistan and in which he scored 348 goals including 21 hat-tricks an international record. He has represented his country at 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010 FIH Hockey World Cups and the 2000, 2004 and 2012 Summer Olympics being the top scorer for Pakistan at both the World Cups and Olympics.

Early lifeEdit

Born at Karachi's Holy Family Hospital, Soldier Bazaar on 9 June 1977,[4] Sohail is a former pupil of Karachi's Habib Public School, the school of many other hockey stars. In fact, it has been rightly remarked that hockey is taught as a subject in this school.

He came from a sporting family; his father, Syed Iftikhar Hussain, was a former first-class cricketer. He represented Karachi as well as Pak Crescent Club, famous for producing Zaheer Abbas. Abbas is eldest of three brothers. Raheel Abbas, his younger brother, is also former professional first-class cricketer. Sohail has often said that his inspiration came from his uncle, Safdar Abbas, a left-winger who represented Pakistan from 1973 to 1981 where he scored against Argentina during the 1973 World Cup as a 16-year-old boy. Abbas is keen to emphasize the part played by Safdar, who, Abbas says, inspired him as a youngster.[5]

Abbas started playing hockey for his school and later for his college. In the beginning he played as a forward but due to his physical built and unsatisfactory performance his youth coach moved him in the defense. Dejected by this Abbas started practicing his drag-flick abilities to keep the scoring aspect of his game. Before him Pakistan played a brand of hockey that was known for its speedy forwards who created goal scoring chances from their technique not penalty-corner specialists like the European style. He started practicing solely on drag-flicks from watching old video tapes of former players and would spend hours on drag-flicks even after match practice.[6]

Club careerEdit



Abbas started his professional senior career in his native Pakistan playing for his departmental team Habib Bank of his hometown Karachi in the Pakistan National Hockey Championship. Abbas helped his domestic team to reach the final of the National Championship in 2001.[citation needed]


After a brief stunt with SSGC Abbas continued playing in the Pakistan domestic season but this time for WAPDA. In the season 2003 and 2004, he won the National Hockey Championship back to back with WAPDA as captain. He returned for his departmental team in Pakistan WAPDA from Netherlands in 2009. He was top scorer in the 2009 National Hockey Championship with 16 goals and in 2010 won the Hockey Asian Champions Club Cup. He continued playing for them in the domestic season until 2017 at the age of 40.[7]


Amsterdam HBCEdit

Abbas's extraordinary talent and goal scoring prowess mean that he is a target of hockey clubs all over the world. He joined Dutch club Amsterdam HBC in 1999 playing the 1999-2000 season for them where he reached the semifinals, due to his commitments with the Pakistan team, Abbas only played for nine weeks and that too in two spells. He was provided with free lodging and boarding, offered a car and paid as much as 700 dollars per match.[citation needed]

Malaysia and GermanyEdit

In December 2002 he joined the Kuala Lumpur based side BS Nasional HC in Malaysia with whom he won the TNB Cup, the domestic cup competition and in April 2003 he played a season in the top division of Germany in the 1.Bundesliga for Harvestehuder THC of Hamburg.[citation needed]

Hyderabad SultansEdit

In 2005 he played in the inaugural season of Indian Premier Hockey League for Hyderabad Sultans. He was the star attraction of the tournament and his team won the title.[8]

Rotterdam HCEdit

In May 2005 he made his second stint in the Netherlands after HC Rotterdam signed him for the promotion-relegation play-offs. He scored in his debut for the club as his team won the promotion to the First Division for the following season. Abbas finished as top scorer for his club with 20 goals in the 2005-06 season but his team failed to reach the finals. He again finished as top scorer for Rotterdam with 22 goals in 2006-07 season helping his team finish third and securing qualification for the inaugural season of the Euro Hockey League. In 2007–08 season his team finished third both in the Hoofdklasse and in the 2007-08 Euro Hockey League where he was joint top scorer with 7 goals.

According to Abbas playing in Netherlands with Rotterdam introduced him to different style of play and technique which added to a lot to his game. During the 2005-06 as Pakistan was hit with a devastating earthquake Abbas started a fund raising mission with the approval of his club and Rotterdam city council for the victims of the tragedy. He organized friendly matches between Dutch and international sides composed of international players from Australia, Germany, and India who were also playing professional hockey in Netherlands to raise funds that were to be directly transferred to the affected region through international relief organizations.[9]

Hong KongEdit

In 2013 Abbas signed for Punjab Sports Club to play in the semi-professional Hong Kong premier league for a season.[10]

International careerEdit

Youth teamsEdit

As a young hockey player, his potential was not realized for some time. He had difficulty making an impact on the professional hockey leagues between 1995 and 1998. Like many Pakistani hockey players, he is a product of the Pakistan Junior Squad. An impressive performance in the 18th Junior National Hockey U18 Championship at Quetta 1995 gained him a place in Pakistan Junior squad which drew their home series 2–2 against Germany Juniors. He was not selected for the tour of Netherlands, Germany and Poland, playing next for Pakistan in the third Junior Asia Cup at Singapore in 1996. He staged a return to the Pakistan Junior side in 1997, a side which beat Germany Junior in four consecutive test matches.

Four months later, he was dropped from the Pakistan Junior squad. Pakistan Junior team manager Samiullah Khan and coach Ayaz Mahmood were not convinced to include him for the 1997 World Cup staged in Milton Keynes - an underwhelming squad that failed to making it to the Junior World Cup semi-finals for the first time in the cup's 25-year history. Finally, he made his debut the following year on the national team and has since become arguably hockey's most prolific goalscorer of all time.

National debutEdit

When he made his international debut during the 20th Pakistan-India series 1998, his role was only to come from the bench for penalty corner drills. His debut was at Peshawar's Lala S.M. Ayub Hockey Stadium on Saturday, 28 February 1998. Pakistan manager effected a substitution midway through the tie, but failed to make an impact. He failed to score in three penalty corners as Pakistan won 4–1. The following day, on 1 March 1998, in the second test at Rawalpindi's Army Hockey Stadium, Abbas announced his arrival on the international scene in dramatic fashion, scoring a drag flick from a penalty corner which proved to be the match-winner in Pakistan's 2–1 victory.

When the rule was changed after the 1998 World Cup, he was not considered for the 1998 Commonwealth Games by coach Shahnaz Sheikh. But he staged a comeback to win silver in 1998 Hockey Champions Trophy in Lahore and bronze at the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games. Abbas struck 20 goals in 1998.

Azlan Shah triumph and record yearEdit

In 1999 Abbas was in terrific form. He started off the year being the top scorer in both the 1999 India-Pakistan test series with 10 goals and 1999 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup with 12 goals helping Pakistan win the title for the first time.[11] He finished top scorer of the 1999 Hockey Asia Cup with 16 goals equaling the record of Hasan Sardar of most goals in an edition of the tournament in 1982.[12] During the match against Sri Lanka he scored 7 goals in the 15–0 victory making him only the sixth player to have scored a double-hattrick for Pakistan in a match. But Pakistan finished second after losing the final to South Korea. Abbas finished the year with 60 goals breaking the record of most international goals in a calendar year by Paul Litjens of Netherlands, 58.

2000 OlympicsEdit

Pakistan qualified for Sydney Olympics by taking part in 2000 Olympic Qualifiers in March 2000 in Osaka. Pakistan finished second on the Japanese soil, with Sohail scoring 13 goals to finish as leading marksman. Abbas was also leading scorer at the 2000 Olympic Games, Sydney, with 11 goals. Mixing his impressive hitting abilities with drag-flicks, Abbas has proved himself to be the world's most consistent drag-flick converter, his success rate over 65% mark. Pakistan lost the bronze medal match to hosts Australia by 6-3 finishing fourth. This as of now was the last time Pakistan played for a medal at the Olympics in hockey. His total goals in 2000 were 26.

Abbas scored a total of 37 goals in the 2001. Pakistan started off the year playing in an invitational tournament in Dhaka, Bangladesh where they finished second after losing the final to India on penalty strokes. During the tour of Europe he scored a hat-trick against South Korea in Hamburg, Germany. Later he was top-scorer of the 2001 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup with 10 goals but Pakistan finished fourth. In the last assignment of the year Pakistan played in the Champions Trophy in Rotterdam where he scored another hat-trick against Germany but Pakistan again finished at fourth place

2002 World CupEdit

Sohail attracted worldwide attention in 2002 when he emerged as the joint highest scorer along with Argentina's Jorge Lombi in the 10th World Cup at Kuala Lumpur. And all 10 goals that Abbas scored at the Bukit Jalil Stadium in the Malaysian capital were off PCs. He managed 44 goals in 2002 and added yet another feather to his cap in that year. Hasan Sardar was Pakistan's top scorer with 150 goals before Abbas unveiled his goal-scoring prowess. During the Six-Nation Invitational tournament at Kuala Lumpur, a month before World Cup 2002, Sohail scored his 151st international goal, becoming Pakistan's all-time highest scorer in international hockey. He struck nine goals as Pakistan managed bronze medals in 17th Commonwealth Games hockey tournament at Manchester. He struck hat-trick when Pakistan routed South Africa 10–2 in bronze-decider on 4 August 2002. Later, in the 24th CT in Cologne, Germany, Sohail played a major role and Pakistan finished third ahead of India.

Suspension and controversyEdit

Abbas managed 28 goals in 2003 and for the sixth time running, he finished as annual leading scorer for Pakistan. He struck five goals as Pakistan met success in Ipoh's 12th Azlan Shah Cup in March 2003 but later on Pakistan went to Australia without him, Muhammad Nadeem and Waseem Ahmad as the trio had defied the PHF by skipping the national training camp to play professional league in Germany. Sohail and Waseem represented German club Harvestehuder THC of Hamburg while Nadeem played for Gladbacher HTC. It was Abbas's third spell as pro hockey player after Dutch league 1999 and Malaysian League 2002 (he represented Bank Simpanan Nasional BSN along with Kashif Jawwad). Nadeem did return in time for the trials for the Australia-bound squad, but he was not considered for selection and Pakistan suffered embarrassment, finishing last in both twin 4-Nation tournaments at Perth and Sydney.[13]

Nadeem, later on, was reprimanded for his act while Abbas and Waseem were not allowed to appear in Pakistan-China series in July. They faced an inquiry committee on 14 July 2003 during which they regretted the mistake. Both were allowed to join the camp and seven days later were included in the team for the 25th CT. But their inclusion only came after hefty fines of Rs. 100,000 each on the players. PHF inquiry committee had also recommended a one-year ban on the duo. But PHF President Gen. Muhammad Aziz Khan brought an amicable end to the controversy when he said that the under-fire players will compete in the CT in better national interest.

2004 Olympics and world recordEdit

Abbas (left) challenging for the ball against Argentina at a tri nation tournament in Alacalá la Real, Spain in 2004

Sohail started 2004 in whirlwind fashion and won the top scorer award in 13th Azlan Shah Cup at Bukit Jalil Complex. He struck ten goals with the help of two hat tricks against India and Germany. He managed one double hat trick and 21 hat tricks in international hockey so far: a record unmatched in international field hockey. Sohail recorded 59 goals in 2004 and was well poised to break his own world record of most goals in calendar year (60 in 1999) before retirement. Sohail was the key figure when Pakistan won a place at the 2004 Summer Olympics by finishing third at the 2004 Olympic Qualifiers in Madrid on 13 March 2004. Three times Olympic Champion Pakistan also qualified Sohail was also leading marksman at Madrid with nine goals. Four of these nine goals were against India in league encounter when he converted four out of four penalty corners. At Athens, he became the record Pakistani goalscorer in a single Olympiad, beating the 10-goal record of centre-forward Hassan Sardar, created at the Los Angeles Olympiad twenty years beforehand. Only Sohail, Sardar and Abdul Rashid Jr. have topped the goal scoring-chart in Olympics hockey.

Abbas scored his 267th international goal during the Champions Trophy in Amritsar, India to equal the 22-year-old record of Dutch penalty corner specialist Paul Litjens on 4 October 2004 and then on 8 October he broke the Dutchman's record.[14][15] He retired in December 2004, just after the Champions Trophy in Lahore along with another Pakistani great Waseem Ahmad, when he was only 27 years of age but on 4 July 2006, he decided to return to the international hockey.[16] Since the summer of 2005 he and Waseem have both played for Dutch club Rotterdam. He struck his 33rd goal to break Mark Hager's 9-year-old record. His 33rd goal emerged from penalty-mark when he converted 66th-minute penalty-stroke against India in Pakistan's 2–1 win on fourth day of 26th Champions Trophy. The Australian striker had registered 32 goals from 1985 to 1995. He took 11 editions for his 32 goals while Sohail did the needful in his 6th CT and added another on 12 December tie to make his final Champions' Trophy total 34. Abbas immediately after the end of 2004 announced his retirement from international hockey saying he wants to retire while at his best form while keeping to option to come back if the national team needs him for major tournaments.[17]

Coming out of retirement and 2006 World CupEdit

After retiring form the national team he missed all of the 2005 campaigns even the 2006 World Cup qualification in China but he was recalled for the tour of Europe and the 2006 Champions Trophy before the World Cup. Pakistan finished a disappointing sixth at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

Comeback year and 2010 World CupEdit

After remaining out of national setup for two years and missing the 2008 Beijing Olympics Abbas was called back into the national squad for the 2009 Hockey Asia Cup where Pakistan lost the final to South Korea. Abbas helped secure qualification for the 2010 World Cup by winning the qualifiers in Lille, France, and later finished silver in the Hockey Champions Challenge I in Argentina. Despite good performances in the test series with Netherlands in previous months Pakistan finished their worst 12th at the 2010 World Cup in New Delhi managing to win just a match. Abbas first Major Gold Medal was in 2010 Asian Games held in China. Abbas's finest moment for Pakistan continued to be the 2010 Asian Games as he was part of the team which beat South Korea 4–3 on penalty strokes. Abbas however missed his penalty. Malaysia defeated India 4–3 and played Pakistan in the final. On 25 November 2010 the Malaysia v Pakistan final started during the 28th minute of the match Abbas scored a penalty corner to give Pakistan a 1–0 lead. Rehan Butt scored a goal 4 minutes after half time to extend the lead to 2–0. Malaysia failed to score and the whistle blew with Pakistan winning the 2010 Asian Games Hockey Tournament. This became Pakistan's first victory at the Asian Games since 1990 and their first victory in a major international tournament since the 1994 Champions Trophy. The 16-year drought ended and Pakistan and Sohail Abbas put a poor World Cup and Commonwealth Games behind them to give their country their first major trophy in 16 years.[18]

Captaincy and 2012 OlympicsEdit

Abbas remained part of the team setup with the Olympics in mind. In 2011 he scored 19 goals for Pakistan. After serving Pakistan for almost 14 years, Abbas was awarded the captaincy of the national hockey side for the first time in the Azlan Shah Cup and London Olympics 2012.[19] Abbas's side ended 7th (last) in the Azlan Shah 2012 tournament.[citation needed] Similarly, they ended the Olympics at the 7th position despite starting off with a draw against Spain. Sohail was dropped from the team after the Olympics.[20] Later he announced his retirement from the national side.

Player profileEdit

Sohail can easily be regarded as the best short corner expert in world hockey. Argentina's Jorge Lombi and Netherlands's Taeke Taekema are second in line. He is a natural short corner expert with a very strong wrist, a powerful drag flick and a perfected dummy "body dodge" action. He was Pakistani candidate for the FIH Player of the Year award in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2004.

"Sohail Abbas is the king of penalty corner because of his goal scoring record. He scored the most goals from penalty corners, so definitely he is the best in the world,"

Taeke Taekema - Dutch drag-flick specialist

Time spent in Netherlands him tone his skills and he pays warm tribute to the club boss Jons Hanset, who helped make his stay enjoyable.

Twelve goals in 5 matches and helped his team qualify for the play-offs was no mean feat and he has no hesitation in stating that Netherlands remains his favorite country to visit. Close to his mother, he describes her as "my greatest supporter. I credit her with all I have achieved."

Many of Sohail's contemporaries were in awe of his performances. Former India goal keeper, Jude Menezes recalls that Abbas was so confident of his ability that he could tell his opposing number which section of the goal he would target, and still make the shot.[21]


Sohail Abbas holds the following records in field hockey:


  • Highest goals scorer in field hockey with 348 goals.
  • Highest number of goals in a calendar year: 60 goals in 1999
  • Fastest to score 100 goals in international hockey: two years six months and 18 days.
  • Fastest to score 200 goals in international hockey: five years five months and 16 days.
  • Highest number of goals in a single edition of Asia Cup
  • He has scored a record 21 international hat tricks including one double hat trick.

Career statisticsEdit


Club Season League Ref
Division Apps Goals
Habib Bank 1997 National Hockey Championship - -
1998 - -
1999 - -
2001 - -
2002 - -
WAPDA 2003 National Hockey Championship - -
SSGC 2004 National Hockey Championship - -
WAPDA 2004 National Hockey Championship - -
2009 - -
2010 - -
2011 - -
2012 - -
2013 - -
2014 - -
2015 - -
2016 - -
2017 - -
Club Season League Ref
Division Apps Goals
Amsterdam HBC 1999 Hoofdklasse 24 14 [22]
BS Nasional HC 2002 Malaysia Hockey League 8 7
Hyderabad Sultans 2005 Indian Premier Hockey League 7 7
HC Rotterdam 2004-2005 Overgangsklasse 2 1 [23]
2005-2006 Hoofdklasse 22 20 [24]
2006-2007 27 22 [25]
2007-2008 Hoofdklasse 25 22 [26]
Euro Hockey League 7 7 [27]
2008-2009 Hoofdklasse 26 19 [28]
Euro Hockey League 6 2 [29]


Year Caps Goals
1998 31 20
1999 36 60
2000 21 26
2001 29 37
2002 36 44
2003 21 30
2004 50 59
2006 16 14
2009 15 17
2010 14 10
2011 26 21
2012 16 10
Total 311 348

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Sports, A. R. Y. (18 November 2015). "The legend Sohail Abbas". Retrieved 25 August 2021.
  2. ^ "Profile of Sohail Abbas". SR/Olympic Sports website. 28 August 2009. Archived from the original on 17 April 2020. Retrieved 20 October 2020.
  3. ^ G, Eddie (24 September 2019). "Who is the drag flick king, Sohail Abbas?". Retrieved 27 May 2021.
  4. ^ "Sohail Abbas profile". London 2012 website (Olympics). 9 July 2012. Archived from the original on 1 August 2012. Retrieved 20 October 2020.
  5. ^ "The Man, Sohail Abbas". 29 May 2012.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ "An Interview with Pakistani Hockey legend - Sohail Abbas [With Audio Link]". Retrieved 30 August 2021.
  7. ^ "Vintage Sohail Abbas drag flick earns WAPDA late win". The Express Tribune. 23 December 2016. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
  8. ^ "Hyderabad Sultans win PHL". Retrieved 25 August 2021.
  9. ^ "Hockey Star Sohail Abbas on Fund-Raising Mission in Rotterdam". Arab News. 25 October 2005. Retrieved 30 August 2021.
  10. ^ "Hockey superstar Sohail Abbas left scoreless in debut in Hong Kong". South China Morning Post. 27 October 2013. Retrieved 30 August 2021.
  11. ^ "May 1999 Bulletin". Retrieved 25 August 2021.
  12. ^ "Sohail Abbas and the long list of his records!! [Archive] - - Pakistan Cricket Forum". Retrieved 25 August 2021.
  13. ^ "Pakistan axe Abbas, Nadeem". Retrieved 25 August 2021.
  14. ^ "Sohail claims record as Pakistan clinch series". The Tribune (India). 9 October 2004. Retrieved 20 October 2020.
  15. ^ Dutch hockey legend Bovelander happy to be visiting Pakistan again Daily Times, Published 17 January 2018, Retrieved 27 May 2021
  16. ^ "Sohail Abbas comes out of retirement". The Tribune (India). 6 July 2006. Retrieved 20 October 2020.
  17. ^ "'You must retire when you are on top'". Retrieved 30 August 2021.
  18. ^ Sohail, Abbas. "Pakistan win the 2010 Asian Games hockey tournament, it's the first title in 16 years for Pakistan". The News International (newspaper) website. Archived from the original on 28 November 2010. Retrieved 20 October 2020.
  19. ^ "Sohail named Pakistan captain". Archived from the original on 20 June 2012. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  20. ^ "Pakistan end 7th in Olympics". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 16 February 2013. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  21. ^ "Meetings and beatings". 16 March 2009. Retrieved 27 May 2021.
  22. ^ "Topscorers Hoofdklasse Heren seizoen 1999/2000". 24 October 2017. Archived from the original on 24 October 2017. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
  23. ^ "Hoofdklasse hockey heren 2004/05", Wikipedia (in Dutch), 15 August 2017, retrieved 25 August 2021
  24. ^ "Topscorers Heren Rabo Hoofdklasse KNHB 2005/2006". 24 October 2017. Archived from the original on 24 October 2017. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
  25. ^ "Topscorers Heren Rabo Hoofdklasse KNHB 2006/2007". 21 October 2017. Archived from the original on 21 October 2017. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
  26. ^ "Topscorers Heren Rabo Hoofdklasse KNHB 2007/2008". 21 October 2017. Archived from the original on 21 October 2017. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
  27. ^ "2007–08 Euro Hockey League", Wikipedia, 24 June 2021, retrieved 25 August 2021
  28. ^ "Topscorers Heren Rabo Hoofdklasse KNHB 2008/2009". 21 October 2017. Archived from the original on 21 October 2017. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
  29. ^ "2008–09 Euro Hockey League", Wikipedia, 24 June 2021, retrieved 25 August 2021

External linksEdit