“Friends, please settle down; I’ll get more emotional. It’s hard to believe my wonderful journey between those 22 yards for 24 years is coming to an end. I’ve a list of names to thank.
The first is my father, who passed away in 1999. Without his guidance, I wouldn’t be standing in front of you. He said ‘chase your dreams, don’t give up.’ I miss him today. My mom, I don’t know how she managed a naughty child like me. She just prayed and prayed from the day I startd 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, doesn’t like to talk much, but he has always said, ‘Whatever you do, I know you will give ou 100 percent. My first cricket bat was presented to me by my sister, Savita. She still continues to fast while I bat. Ajit, my brother. We have lived this dream together. He sacrificed his career for me. He took me to Achrekar Sir first. Even last night he called me to discuss my dismissal. Even when I’m not playing, we will still be discussing technique. If that hadn’t happened, I would have been a lesser cricketer.
“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 she took care of the children. Thanks for bearing with me for all the nonsense I’ve said.
“Then the two precious diamonds of my life, Sara and Arjun. I’ve missed out on several of their birthdays, holidays, annual days, sports days. I know for 14-16 years I’ve not spent enough time with you, but I promise that I will now.
“My inlaws – I’ve discussed several things with them. The most important thing they did was allow me to marry Anjali. In the last 24 years, my friends have made teffific contributions. They have been with me while I was stressed. They have been with me even at 3 a.m. when I was injured. Thanks for being there for me.
“My career started when I was 11. I was extremely delighted to see Achrekar sir in the stands. I used to ride on his scooter and play two matches a day. Sir took me along to make sure I played. On a lighter note, Sir never said ‘well played’ because he didn’t want me to be complacent. You can push your luck now, sir, since I’m not playing any cricket match anymore.
“Thanks to all the senior cricketers who have played with me. We see on the screen Rahul, VVS and Sourav; Anil is not here. And the team right here. I have a special message to the team. We are all so proud to represent the nation. I have full faith that you will continue to serve the country in the right spirit.
“I will be failing in my duty if I didn’t thank the doctors who took care of his difficult body, given the injuries I have suffered.
“My dear friend Mark Mascarenhas. We lost him in an accident. He was my first manager. I miss him. Someone who has worked closely with me for 14 years is my friend Vinay Nayudu.
“The media has backed me a lot, since my schooldays, even today. Thank you, thanks to the photographers for capturing those moments.
“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.”