Friends, please settle down, I will get more and more emotional! My life has been between 22 yards for 24 years and it's hard to believe my wonderful journey is coming to an end. But, I would like to take this opportunity to thank people who have played an important role in my life.
The most important person in my life, who I have missed since 1999 when he passed away, is my father. Without his guidance I wouldn't be standing in front of you. He gave me freedom at the age of 11 and told me: 'Chase your dreams, but make sure you do not find short cuts. Don't give up, the path will be difficult.' Every time I have done something special and raised my bat, it was for my father. I miss him today.
My mother, I don't how she dealt with such a naughty guy like me. I was not easy to manage. She must be extremely patient. She took care of me for the last 24 years that I have played for India, but even before that, she started praying for me the day I started playing cricket. I think those prayers and blessings gave me strength.
In my school days, for four years, I used to stay with my uncle and aunt as my school was far away. They treated me like their son. After a hard day's play, I would be half asleep and my aunt would be feeding me food so I could go again and play tomorrow. I can't forget these moments.
My eldest brother Nitin doesn't like to talk much but he said, 'whatever you do, I know you will give 100 per cent'. His encouragement meant a lot to me. My sister, Savita, and her family, were no different. My first cricket bat was presented to me by my sister, a Kashmir willow bat. That is where the journey began. She still continues to fast while I bat.
Ajit, my brother, I don't know...what do I talk about him? We have lived this dream together. It all started from the age of 11, when he took me to Achrekar sir, my coach. And my life changed. You will find this hard to believe, but even last night he called to discuss my dismissal, knowing that there was a remote chance of batting again... but just the habit we have developed, the rapport we have developed. Various things we agreed upon and disagreed upon. We have had a lot of arguments over my technique. Even last night he called me to discuss my dismissal. If I had not done that, I would have been a lesser cricketer.
The most beautiful thing happened to me in 1990 when I met my wife Anjali. Those were special years and it has continued and will always continue that way. I know Anjali, being a doctor, there was a wonderful career in front of her. When we decided to have a family, Anjali took the initiative to step back. 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. You are the best partnership that I had in my life.
The two precious diamonds of my life, Sara and Arjun. They have already grown up. My daughter is 16, my son is 14. Time has flown by. I've missed out on several birthdays, holidays, annual days and sports days. Thanks for understanding, both of you have been so special to me. I've not spent enough time with you but I promise you the next 16 years or even beyond that, everything is for you.
My in-laws - Anand Mehta and Annabel - have been always supportive, loving and caring. I discuss various things with them, we have a strong family. The most important thing they did was allowing me to marry Anjali, so thank you very much.
In the last 24 years that I have played for India, I have made new friends, and before that, I have had friends from my childhood. They have all made a terrific contribution. As and when I have called them to come and bowl to me at the nets, they have left their work aside to come and help me. Even for when I was injured, I would wake up in the morning because I couldn't sleep and thought that my career was over because of injuries, that is when my friends have woken up at 3 o'clock in the morning to drive with me and make me believe that my career was not over.
My cricket career started when I was 11. The turning point of my career was when my brother Ajit took me to Achrekar sir and that is the best thing to have happened to me. Sir would be taking me on his scooter all over Mumbai. I would bat one innings in Shivaji Park and then the next at Azad Maidan to ensure that I get enough match practice. On a lighter note, he's never said well played to me for 29 years so that I don't get complacent. Maybe he can push his luck and wish me now, well done on my career, because there are no more matches, sir, in my life. I will be witnessing cricket, and cricket will always stay in my heart, but you have had an immense contribution in my life, so thank you very much.
My cricket for Mumbai started right here on this ground, the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA), which is so dear to me. I remember landing from New Zealand at 4 a.m. and playing a Ranji game the next day because I wanted to be a part of Mumbai cricket, and not that somebody forced me. I have had a great relationship with the BCCI who believed in me to give me a debut when I was just 16. Thanks to the selectors.
We see it on the mega-screen, Rahul, Laxman, Sourav, and Anil, who is not here, and my team-mates right here in front me. You are like my family away from home. I have had some wonderful times with you. It is going to be difficult to not be part of the dressing room, sharing those special moments.
I will be failing in my duty if I didn't thank the doctors who have kept me fit. Given the injuries I have suffered. They have treated me in odd hours.
My dear friend the late Mark Mascarenhas. I miss him. My current management team WSG, for continuing what Mark has done. Someone who has worked closely with me for 14 years is my friend Vinod Nayudu.
The media has backed me a lot, since my school days. 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.