Mumbai, Mar 23: By Sachin Tendulkar's own admission, his brother Ajit and coach Ramakant Achrekar have been the two guiding forces who shaped India's longest spanning cricketing career.
Not known for public display of emotions, the master blaster was at loss of words as he spoke about his family and close friends in a function here today for the first time, after being felicitated by the Marathi journalists on him reaching the 35th century landmark.
Sachin was felicitated at the hands of the Nightingale of India Lata Mangeshkar with a golden bat. He was also presented a citation at the hands of former India captain Ajit Wadekar.
In his acceptance speech, Sachin said he had been lucky to have born in this family. ''The strength and the support I have received from the family and the values that have been instilled have guided me to reach where I am now.'' Speaking about his earlier days, he said if it was not for Ajit (his brother), he would not have been a cricketer today. It was he who took me to Achrekar Sir and convinced my father to change my schools for the betterment of my game.
Speaking about his coach, Sachin said, ''it was the discipline which Achrekar Sir instilled in me that has stood me in good stead today.'' ''During my formative years, whenever we friends used to make plans of going to eat bhel puri, Sir used to come to know about it somehow and come to my house and take me to practice. I used to hate it at that time, but now I realise how important it was for me.'' Sachin also thanked his wife Anjali for standing by him all these years. She has been a bouncing wall for me where I can take out all my frustrations, pains and sorrows, but she has always stood by me and I am grateful for that.
''Sachin also mentioned that after becoming a father he has mellowed down and shown a lot of patience. ''I realised after becoming a father what all pains our parents had gone through to bring us up, but I feel seeing the joy on your kids faces is worth everything.'' Lata Mangeshkar, with whose hands the batting maestro was feted, unbashedly said that she was a Sachin fan.
''Earlier I never used to watch much cricket, but with the advent of Sachin I am glued to the television. I even sometimes forget to take my bath or eat my meals as I hate to get up from the seat while Sachin is playing,'' she candidly admitted.
The Nightingale of India further said Sachin was not just a good cricketer, but at the same time also a warm, soft spoken human being who never spoke ill of anybody.
On the occasion, Vinod Kambli spoke about his friendship with Sachin, while Sachin's mother recounted the earlier days when the master blaster was a michievious young boy.
A small skit and poems written by his father, the late Ramesh Tendulkar, were also read on the occasion.
A few veteran Marathi journalists were also honoured on the occasion at the hands of the man himself.