The legends we lost in 2011

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Air Marshal Nur Khan
A charismatic and inspirational figure, Air Marshal Nur Khan (Feb 1923-Dec 2011) was our own Charles de Gaulle. Very few administrators command as much respect as did Nur Khan. It was Pakistan sports’ good fortune that he happened to head hockey, squash and cricket. As chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (then BCCP), he brought World Cup to the sub continent, and when he headed the Pakistan Hockey Federation, Champions Trophy was introduced as a tournament.
Nur Khan was part of the Pakistani contingent that clashed with the Israeli Air Force during the Six Day War. Former Israeli President Ezer Weizman wrote in his autobiography: “He was a formidable fellow and I was glad that he was Pakistani and not Egyptian”.
An Aitchisonian, Nur Khan was born in 1923 and enjoyed an illustrious military career. He was commander-in-chief of the PAF from 1965 to 1969. Under him, PIA established itself as one of the world’s best airline. In his term, PIA became the first Asian airline to operate jet aircrafts.
He took over as PCB chief in February 1980 and remained at the helm for four years. He brought professionalism, accountability and much more to Pakistan cricket. He made the Asia Cup a reality and brought the World Cup to the subcontinent for the first time in 1987.
Founder of the Champions Trophy, Nur Khan transformed Pakistan’s squash and made hockey team world titleholders.
When this writer interviewed former FIH chief Mrs. Els Van Breda Vriesman in the Hockey Champions Trophy in 2004, the last high-profile sports event in Pakistan, she spoke of hockey world’s immense indebtedness to Nur Khan. He died of anemia and chest infection at the age of 88. It is ironic that Ijaz Butt happened to lead the same board, under Asif Ali Zardari.

Seve Ballesteros
Seve Ballesteros (April 9, 1957–May 7, 2011) is regarded as the greatest Spanish golfer of all time and one of the sport’s leading figures from the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s. Ballesteros won five major championships between 1979 and 1988: the Open Championship three times, and the Masters Tournament twice. He is best known for his great short game, and his erratic driving of the golf ball.
In 2008, he was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour. After reports that Ballesteros would make a return to the spotlight at the 2010 Open Championship, following the advice of doctors he did not travel to St Andrews. Ballesteros was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for the second time at the BBC Sports Personality Awards 2009. Ballesteros died of brain cancer on 7 May 2011, aged 54.
Ballesteros led the Official World Golf Rankings for a total of 61 weeks in the period from their inauguration (in April 1986) to September 1989, including being world number one at the end of the 1988 season. In 1999, Ballesteros was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
He underwent chemotherapy treatment as an outpatient. In January 2009 a message on his website said he had responded well to one course of chemotherapy.[37] On 6 May 2011, Ballesteros’ family released a press release announcing that his neurological condition had “suffered a severe deterioration”.

Joe Frazier
Joseph William popularly known as Joe Frazier (January 12, 1944– November 7, 2011), also known as Smokin’ Joe was one of the most high-profile loss of the year.
He was an Olympic and Undisputed World Heavyweightboxing champion, whose professional career lasted from 1965 to 1976, with a one-fight comeback in 1981. He is known for beating Muhammad Ali on points in the highly-anticipated “Fight of the Century” in 1971. Two years later Frazier lost his title when he was knocked out by George Foreman. He fought on, beating Joe Bugner, losing a rematch to Mohammad Ali, and beating Quarry and Ellis again.
After retiring, Frazier made cameo appearances in several Hollywood movies, and two episodes of The Simpsons. Frazier was diagnosed with liver cancer in late September 2011 and admitted to hospice care. He died November 7, 2011.
Frazier was awarded the Order of the Palmetto in Beaufort, South Carolina in 2010.
Frazier was diagnosed with liver cancer in late September 2011. Within a few weeks, the cancer had metastasized. By November 2011, he was under hospice care, where he died on November 7.
On Frazier’s death, Muhammad Ali said, “The world has lost a great champion. I will always remember Joe with respect and admiration.”

Peter Roebuck
Former English cricketer Peter Roebuck (March 6, 1956 –November 12, 2011) committed suicide in mysterious circumstances in South Africa.
A great cricket commentator and writer, Roebuck died after he was asked by police to answer questions about an allegation of sexual assault.
The former Somerset captain was respected figure in cricket circles. He was was a right-handed batsman and occasionally bowled right-arm offspin.
Roebuck became a controversial figure in 1986 when, at the end of his first season as captain of Somerset, he was instrumental in the county’s decision not to renew the contracts of its two overseas players, Viv Richards and Joel Garner, whose runs and wickets had brought the county much success in the previous eight years.
Roebuck arrived in Cape Town, South Africa, on 7 November 2011 to report on a Test Match between South Africa and Australia for The Sydney Morning Herald and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
On November 12, when South African Police entered the hotel, claiming to desire to speak to him about an alleged sexual assault on a 26-year-old Zimbabwean man and Roebuck called the ABC’s Jim Maxwell in his hotel room and asked him to find him a lawyer and to then come to Roebuck’s hotel room.

Sócrates de Souza
Brazilian footballer Sócrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Souza Vieira de Oliveira, (February 19, 1954 – December 4, 2011) was a doctor by profession and left the football fraternity mourning.
A popular figure Sócrates played as an attacking midfielder. Sócrates was known for great through passes and his vision on the field, as well as his physical strength. He was considered to be one of the greatest midfielders ever to play the game.
Sócrates played for Brazil during seven years, scoring more than 20 goals and representing the nation in two World Cups, captaining the team in the 1982 edition; he also appeared in the 1979 and 1983 Copa América tournaments, and was named South American Footballer of the Yearin 1983, being selected to Pelé’s FIFA 100 list in 2004.

Graham Dilley
Former English fast bowler Graham Dilley (May 18, 1959–October 5, 2011) died just a week after being diagnosed with oesophageal cancer, at the age of 52.
He played 41 Test Matches and 36 ODIs for England. He is perhaps best remembered for his tail-end batting with Ian Botham in England’s second innings at Headingley in 1981, reaching his Test highest score of 56 in an eighth-wicket partnership of 117 in 80 minutes.
His bowling style often fascinated many, with his unusual run-up surprising many. It is believed that he tried to adopt the Jeff Thomson’s slingy bowling style, and later Dilley’s style was used by Chris Cairns in New Zealand.
Geoffrey Boycott once said of him, “Remember what happened to Graham Dilley, who started out as a genuinely quick bowler. They started stuffing line and length in his ear and now he has Dennis Lillee’s action with Denis Thatcher’s pace”.

Dan Wheldon
Death of British driver Dan Wheldon (June 22, 1978–October 16, 2011) was the most tragic of the year 2011. At just 33, he died in a horrible crash after sustaining injuries in a collision at the 2011 IZOD IndyCar World Championship at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Wheldon was born in England and he developed a rivalry with Jenson Button before ultimately leaving the United Kingdom to race in America.
Commenting in 2007 on the perception of him as ‘difficult’, Wheldon said “I put everything into my racing, and I expect the same back. If I see people who aren’t giving it I’m not afraid to say so but that sometimes comes out a little brash. That could be improved a little bit.”

Gary Speed
Former Welsh footballer Gary Andrew Speed, (September 8, 1969 –November 27, 2011) and administrator shocked everyone by committing suicide at the age of 42. The former captain of Wales football team, he played forLeeds United, Everton, Newcastle United, Bolton Wanderers and Sheffield United. Rarely troubled by injury or suspension, he held the record for the most appearances in the Premier League at 535, until it was surpassed by David James. At the time of his death, only James and Ryan Giggs had played in more Premier League matches than Speed.

Amir Hayat Khan Rokhri
There would always be a question mark on the legacy of Aamir Hayat Khan Rokhri (August 12, 1956 –December 29, 2011).
Another Aitchisonian, Rokhri died of heart attack just two days before the start of the new year.
He remained president of the Lahore City Cricket Association for two decades but there was little to boast in achievements.
He was also former secretary of the Pakistan Badminton Association. Rokhri, who took over from former PCB chairman Ijaz Butt as the LCCA head and was ousted by Kh Nadeem three year ago. He was also Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MPA (PP-44 Mianwali-II). Rokhri was son of Khan Amir Abdullah Khan Rokhri and was born on August 12, 1956, in Lahore. He obtained his early education from Aitchison College Lahore and graduated in 1977 from FC College, Lahore. Being an active sports enthusiast, he worked actively as President LCCA since 1985. He had been a serving member on the Governing Body of Pakistan Cricket Board since 2002.

Marco Simoncelli
Italian Moto GP champion Marco Simoncelli (January 20, 1987 –October 23, 2011) died in a tragic accident at the 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang.
Marco Simoncelli was born in Cattolica but grew up and lived in Coriano with his family since childhood. He won the Italian Minimoto Championship in 1999 and 2000 while also became the runner-up in the 2000 European Minimoto Championship. The following year, he stepped up to the Italian 125cc Championship and he won the title in his rookie year. In 2002, he competed and won the European 125cc Championship.
On 23 October 2011, Simoncelli was involved in a collision with Colin Edwards and Valentino Rossi during the Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang International Circuit. In fourth position during lap two, Simoncelli’s bike lost traction in Turn 11 and it started to slide towards the gravel, but the tyres regained traction and his bike suddenly veered across the track into the path of Edwards and Rossi, with Simoncelli hanging down on the right side. Edwards also fell from his machine and suffered a dislocated shoulder. After sliding down the track surface Simoncelli lay still, his helmet having come off during the incident. The race was immediately red-flagged. Simoncelli was taken by ambulance to the circuit’s medical centre, but at 16:56 local time it was announced that he had died from his injuries.

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