A peek into the history of the Men's Hockey World Cup

The Indian hockey team only managed to win one World Cup title, India beat Pakistan 2-1 in the finals with Ashok Kumar scoring the match-winning goal.

Team India in 1975 (in file image)
By Omar | Jan 29, 2023 | 4 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

The idea of a Hockey World Cup was first proposed by Pakistan’s Air Marshal – Nur Khan. Their idea was approved on 26 October 1969 and adopted by the FIH Council at a meeting in Brussels on 12 April 1970. It was originally scheduled to be played in Pakistan but was later shifted to Spain. Hockey World Cup was a huge success and got millions of fans glued to the screens and radios, it was particularly a major hit in the Asian sub-continent.

  • The first-ever Men’s Hockey World Cup, 1971

In 1971 the first-ever men’s hockey World Cup was inaugurated, the event was held in Barcelona, Spain, It was originally slated to be held in Pakistan but was later shifted to Spain because of political conflict in Asia at that point in time. Although they lost the right to host the marquee event, Pakistan emerged as Champions, lifting the first-ever Hockey World Cup after beating Spain in the finals. Pakistan started the tournament poorly but went on to make a remarkable comeback, alongside some luck.

Pakistan Men’s hockey team with the World Cup trophy (in file image)

At one point in the tournament, it looked like Pakistan would get knocked out in the group stage as the Netherlands were expected to thrash minnows Japan in the final match of Pool B, which would have seen Pakistan exit the tournament. However, destiny has other plans for them as Japan pulled off one of the biggest upset in the history of hickey defeating Netherlands 1-0, which handed Pakistan an entry to the next round. The rest is history as they say, Pakistan went on to win the trophy and became a force to reckon with him Hockey.

  • The most successful teams in World Cup history

Pakistan are the most successful team in the men’s hockey World Cup, they have put up a dominant performance winning four titles in the year 1971, 1978, 1982 and 1994. Pakistan’s Sohail Abbas has been one main reason behind their success, he also holds the record for most goals scored in international field hockey with 348 goals in 315 matches. The Netherlands and Australia have also done fairly well at the marquee events, winning three World Cups each. Germany has won two titles and India has one title to their name. Belgium has one title as well which came in the year 2018.

  • India’s run at the Hockey World Cups
India disappointed after a poor show at the World Cup

India’s only victory came back in 1975 in Kuala Lumpur under the captaincy of Ajit Pal Singh. Despite being the eight-time Olympic champions, the Indian hockey team only managed to win one World Cup title, India beat Pakistan 2-1 in the finals with Ashok Kumar scoring the match-winning goal. Apart form 1975, team India has choked in crucial moments in World Cups over the years. At the 2018 edition of the Hockey Men’s World Cup in 2018, India was led by Manpreet Singh, they had topped the group stage but were knocked out after a narrow 2-1 loss against the Netherlands in the quarter-finals. India have failed to put up an impressive show in the 2023 World Cup, they finished on the 9th position, tied with Argentina.

  • Winners of some of the famous World Cups

1982 – India hosted the Hockey World Cup in 1982 in Mumbai where 12 teams participated. Pakistan successfully defended their trophy and defeated West Germany in the final.

The famous Pakistan Hockey Team landed in Lahore with the 1982 World Cup Trophy (in file image)

1986 -London hosted the Hockey World Cup in 1986 which saw participation from 12 countries. Australia defeated hosts and arch-rivals England 2-1 in the final to be crowned champions for the first time. West Germany finished third.

1990- Pakistan hosted the Hockey World Cup for the first time in 1990 in Lahore. Pakistan lost to the Netherlands in the finals.

1998 – Netherlands hosted the tournament in 1998 in Utrecht and emerged champions at home. The hosts defeated Spain to lift their third Hockey World Cup trophy.

Netherland celebrate in the 1998 Hockey World Cup (in file image)

2002 – Kuala Lumpur again hosted the Hockey World Cup in 2002 and It was the first edition where 16 teams participated. Germany won their first title. Germany defeated Australia in the final. Netherlands defeated South Korea in the third-place match.

2006 – Germany became the second team after the Netherlands to win the competition at home. Australia were the runner-up and Spain finished third.

2010 – India hosted the competition for the second time in 2010 in Delhi. Australia won their second Hockey World Cup trophy after beating holders Germany in the final. Netherlands finished third.

Australia emerged as winners of the 2010 Hockey World Cup in Delhi (in file image)

2018: India hosted the event at Bhubaneswar. Belgium defeated Netherlands in the final on a penalty shootout to lift the trophy. India finished sixth after getting knocked out of the tournament in quarter-finals.