In a move that has been considered by sports lovers in the country as long overdue, Union Sports Minister Vijay Goel on Wednesday said he has written to the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday requesting the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour, to be awarded to hockey legend Major Dhyan Chand.

“Dhyan Chand was a magician of hockey. He has done a lot for the sport. I wrote to the PM saying we need to consider his name for Bharat Ratna. He is an inspiration. The magic he performed in three Olympics is known to the entire country. If he gets the award now, it will be a day to celebrate for the entire country,” said Goel.

Dhyan Chand was the one man responsible for Indian hockey’s golden age. He won Olympic gold medals for India in 1928, 1932 and 1936, scoring over 400 goals during his international career. “He scores goals like we score runs in cricket,” Sir Don Bradman remarked once.

In August last year, a day before National Sports Day on Chand’s birthday, several former hockey greats had come together to reiterate the demand for the award.

Led by Dhyan Chand’s son, World Cup winner Ashok Kumar and former India captain Dilip Tirkey, the assembled Olympians hoped the government would take note of Dhyan Chand’s achievements and confer the honour on the legend who led India to consecutive Olympic gold medals in 1928, 1932 and 1936.