The legendary VR Raghunath, who participated in two World Cup campaigns and won the gold medal at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, recalls his memories of earlier times. He was a key member of the Indian men’s hockey team and won the Asian Games gold medal.
VR Raghunath, one of the deadliest drag flickers to ever don the Indian men’s hockey team shirt, competed in his Senior World Cup as a youngster in the German town of Monchengladbach.
The fullback went on to play more than 300 games at the highest level for his nation and said that nothing can compare to the thrill of taking part in a World Cup.
“The World Cup I attended as a teenager in 2006 was a fantastic experience that taught me about the world stage and the pressure that comes with it.
“I developed my ability to handle pressure during the most difficult games, and I also realized that you simply cannot make mistakes in the World Cup,” according to Raghunath, who was quoted by Hockey India.
Raghunath was one of the tallest players on the Indian Men’s Hockey Team towards the end of the following decade, and he was one of the role models for the young players when the 2014 World Cup arrived.
“I always advised the players to perform at their highest level on an individual level so that it would translate to the team’s performances. When it comes to the World Cup, it’s difficult to do that because there is always some degree of jitters unless you have played 80–100 games for your nation.
My seniors used to encourage me to relax and play my natural game, but it was difficult to do so because of the pressure. It was only during my second World Cup that I truly appreciated the guidance that Dilip Tirkey Sir provided.”
When it comes to performing in front of your own supporters, Raghunath considers Bhubaneswar’s Kalinga Stadium to be among the best venues he has ever played in.
“After having competed in matches in Germany, Holland, and other nations, I can confidently claim that the Kalinga Stadium is among the best in the world. Because of the way it is built, the noise the supporters generate is amplified, creating an ambiance that is considerably different from that of many other stadiums. The overwhelming support from the crowd encourages the greatest performance from Indian players.”
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