I am honoured to have played with him for 16 years
He feels honoured to have shared the dressing room with Sachin Tendulkar for 16 years and VVS Laxman says the retiring senior batsman is remarkably special for never considering himself bigger than the game.
"The most important thing which youngsters can learn from Sachin is that he never considered himself above the game. The respect he gave to the game and his colleagues makes him special," Laxman said.
"He is such a special talent and he always played in the spirit of the game. He always kept the team's requirement above his. The way he came back from injuries and played for the country is inspiring. He is a true role model not only for cricketers but for all sportspersons," he said.
"It has been a remarkable and glittering career not only because of records and runs he scored but the way he carried himself. It's not so easy," he added.
Laxman revealed that like every Indian cricketer he too grew up idolising Tendulkar.
"I am honoured to have played with him for 16 years. I grew up idolising him because at the tender age of 16 he played the best bowlers in the world with so much ease," said the former Test batsman.
Image: Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman
Photographs: Morne de Klerk/Getty Images
'His family should be credited for ensuring he concentrated only on cricket'
He also said it was Tendulkar who made him feel comfortable in the dressing room on his debut.
"Sachin was the captain of the team when I made my debut in 1996 (South Africa series). He made sure that I felt comfortable in dressing room and on the field," he said.
When asked to share his special moments with Sachin, Laxman said it was hard to single out one.
"We used to travel 250 days in a year and spend a lot of time together hence it is hard for me to single out one moment. He is like a god in India and it is easy to get carried away but he is grounded," said Laxman.
Laxman credited Tendulkar's family for the veteran right-hander's humility.
"He has been playing for more than two decades and we have never heard of any controversy involving him. His parents, brother and wife Anjali should be complimented for ensuring for making sure that he concentrated on cricket only," he said.
Image: Sachin Tendulkar speaks to his wife Anjali
Photographs: Indian Badminton League
'I knew that only Sachin could play 200 Tests'
When asked about where he would place Tendulkar in the list of all-time legends, Laxman said he is up there with the best of the game.
"It is very difficult to compare the legends of the game but Sachin is up there and he is the best batsman I have seen in my era," he said.
Laxman, who is himself considered one of the all-time best Test batsmen, said he always felt that if anybody could play 200 Tests in the world, it would be Tendulkar.
"I never thought that someone will play 200 Tests in his career but one thing I was sure of was that if someone could do this, it would be only Sachin. He is god's child who could achieve anything on the ground. Nobody in the world will ever be able to repeat this feat," he said.
When asked which cricketing role will suit Tendulkar post retirement, Laxman said that he was sure that the Mumbaikar will keep contributing to Indian sports.
"I don't know in what capacity but he will contribute to Indian sports. When he became an MP, I asked him why and his reply was that he wants to do something for the well-being of sports and sportspersons," he said.
Image: Sachin Tendulkar speaks with VVS Laxman
Photographs: Michael Steele/Getty Images