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Dilip Tirkey: Hockey is the only thing I know (7/15/2011)
--Harpreet Lamba
Hockey is the only thing I knew, says Tirkey

Harpreet Kaur Lamba

Much like his shy, quiet persona, former India hockey skipper Dilip Tirkey finds it hard to "deliver his dialogues" as he is set to debut in an Oriya film, scheduled to release in a few days.

Ever the poster boy of Indian hockey, Tirkey’s fierce determination would erupt on the field, against his opponents. Nicknamed ‘The Wall’ for his brilliant defensive skills, he is the world’s second-most capped player with 412 matches — a record that he continues to hold even after a year of his retirement.

The 33-year old has taken to new roles and is handling them with equal responsibility. He is now a selector and a government observer, and is also trying his hand in films.

A peep into the little-known facts of the Padma Shri and Arjuna Awardee’s life:

Earliest sporting memory: Is of SAI Calcutta, when I was adjudged the man of the match during a tournament in 1991. My award was a table lamp, and I still smile when I remember it.

Sports played: Football, kabbadi, handball, volleyball, kho kho

Most memorable sporting moment: The 1998 Asian Games when we won the gold and the 2003 Afro-Asian Games

Worst sporting moment: 2000 Sydney Olympics, when we played out a draw against Poland to crash out of the tournament, and obviously the 2008 Olympic Qualifiers in Chile.

Questions most asked by the press: "Dilip, kahan kami reh gayi is tournament mein" (Dilip, where did we wrong this time?)

Sporting heroes: Shahbaz Ahmed and Diego Maradona

Favourite venues: National Stadium, Delhi. I played my first international match at the venue in 1995, in front of a 35,000 crowd.

Other sport you would pay to see: Brazil playing football. I would also like to see teams from Ghana and Columbia.

On acting vs playing hockey: I think hockey is easier! I find it very difficult to deliver dialogues that require a lot of aggression.

A change you would like to see in the running of your sport: I think it is high time that all international hockey matches are televised. The public need to see the players, for the sport to grow.

Sporting motto: I never give up.

Who would you most like to invite to dinner and why? Sachin Tendulkar and Diego Maradona. Sachin is an epitome of will power, concentration and humility. I would like to ask him his secret.

Biggest regret: I scored a lot of goals through penalty corners hits. I think I should have tried the drag-flick too.

The person you learnt most from: Hockey coach A.K. Bansal. I used to play as a forward as a kid when he first came to Orissa to teach us. He shifted me to the half-line and then to the defence. I wonder if I would have played international hockey for long if I was a forward. T.S. Grewal also had a strong influence on me.

How will you like to be remembered? As a defender who gave his all for Indian hockey.

Other interests in life: Everything relating to sport.

Your best trait: My will-power

A habit you wish you could get rid of: I think I should start speaking more. Everyone complains about it!

Favourite actor/Favourite actress: Madhuri Dixit, Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan.

Your superstition: During my playing days, I was very particular about not having any cut or a bruise on my body on a match day.

Funniest fan letter/proposal: No one has proposed to me ever! There was a young boy from a village in Bihar, who sent a detailed letter, saying I was an inspiration to him. I cherish such things.

What if not a hockey player? I wouldn’t have been able to do anything else.

Courtesy: The Asian Age

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