Sachin Tendulkar remembers all in farewell speech at Wankhede after India's victory
It was a rare but an expected moment when Sachin Tendulkar got emotional in his farewell speech, heard by millions around the world
He somehow held his composure to thank those who stood by him from the day he picked up the bat as an 11-year-old.
"Friends please settle down, else I I'll get more and more emotional and it will be difficult to talk. You have played an important role in my life," Sachin told the Wankhede crowd and his countless fans minutes after India beat the West Indies in his 200th and final Test here Saturday.
"For 24 years, batting on the 22 yards has been my life. It's hard to believe my wonderful journey is coming to an end." A big roar followed everytime the legend took a pause.
His 20-odd minute speech was a class act too, much like his staggering career. From fans, family, friends and teammates to doctors, sponsors, coaches, he acknowledged the effort of all without whom he "would not have come this far".
"I want to thank the most important person in my life, my father, who left me in 1999. Without his guidance I wouldn't be standing in front of you. He said "chase your dreams, don't give up, the path will be difficult". I miss him today," said the maestro, who returned to play in the World Cup after attending his father's funeral.
"My mom, I don't know how she managed a naughty child like me. She just prayed and prayed from the day I started playing the game. For four years I stayed with my uncle and aunt when in school, they treated me like their own son. My eldest brother Nitin who doesn't like to talk much but he said, whatever you do, I know you will give 100 percent. My first cricket bat was presented to me by my sister Savita. She still continues to fast while I bat."
It is no secret that Sachin's brother Ajit played a big part in shaping up his career.
"What do I say about Ajit? We have lived this dream together, he sacrificed his career for me, he was the one who took me to Achrekar (Ramakant) sir first. Even last night he called me to discuss my dismissal. I guess even when I'm not playing we will still be discussing technique. If that hadn't happened, I would have been a lesser cricketer," he said at the presentation attended by his wife Anjali and children Arjun and Sara.
"The most beautiful thing happened to me when I met Anjali in 1990. I know that being a doctor there was a big career in front of her. But she decided that I should continue playing and took care of the children. Thanks for bearing with me for all the nonsense I've said," he pointed to his better half.
"Then the two precious diamonds of my life - Sara and Arjun. I've missed out on several birthdays, holidays. I know for 14-16 years I've not spent enough time with you. But I promise you I will spend the next 16."
He thanked his current teammates but had a special mention for the four with whom he shared the dressing for a long time.
"Thanks to all the senior cricketers who have played with me. We see on the big screen Rahul (Dravid), VVS (Laxman), Sourav (Ganguly), Anil (Kumble) who is not here. All the coaches. I know when MS (Dhoni) presented the 200th Test cap, I had a message to the team - I said we are all so proud to be representing the nation. I have full faith that you will serve the country in the right spirit."
He said he could not have forgotten to thank his doctors.
"I will be failing in my duty if I didn't thank the doctors who have kept me fit. I don't know how they have managed to do that given the injuries I have suffered."
He had also had a word for his managers and the media. "The media has backed me a lot, since my school days. Thanks to the photographers for capturing those special moments."
Sachin signed off by saying something his fans won't forget for a lifetime.
"I know my speech has become long. I want to thank people who have flown in from different parts of the world. I want to thank my fans from the bottom of my heart. "Sachin, Sachin" will reverberate in my ears till I stop breathing."