Former India hockey prodigy Rajiv Mishra has passed away at the age of 46.
Adjudged the best player in the 1997 Junior Hockey World Cup, Rajiv Mishra once drew crowds to buy tickets. His career derailed by an injury and personal life derailed by drinking, he spent most of his life being a ticket checker on a train - pushed to oblivion by neglect and lack of proper injury management.
Never having got his due despite once having been seen as a genius - once billed as the 'Sachin Tendulkar of the astroturf' - Mishra had led India to a second-place finish in 1997 Junior World Cup and he was hailed as the next big thing in Indian hockey for his 9 goals in the tournament.
He made his debut for the senior Indian team in the Indo-German test series held in January, 1998. This was at a time when he was going through an unsuccessful rehab after a surgery for a routine training injury. IHF President K.P.S. Gill said in 2001, "You can't take care of someone who does not want to be taken care of."
His India career over at the age of 21, Mishra remains one of the most tragic what-if stories in Indian sports.
Tributes poured in for him as news came in of his demise on Friday morning.
“We are deeply saddened by the demise of our former Junior International Hockey Player and 1997 FIH Junior Men World Cup Silver medalist, Rajiv Mishra. We send out our heartfelt condolences to his family,” said Hockey India in a tweet.