It was a 'special moment' for batting great Sachin Tendulkar as his statue was unveiled at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Wednesday.
The life-size statue of Tendulkar, a 200-Test veteran, was unveiled on the eve of the India's World Cup match against Sri Lanka at his home ground.
Tendulkar was accompanied by wife Anjali and daughter Sara. There were a host of VIPs including BCCI secretary Jay Shah, Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, Mumbai Cricket Association president Amol Kale, BCCI vice president Rajeev Shukla and others.
"It is indeed a special moment for me. It was around February when Mr Shelar and Mr Kale called me on the behalf of the MCA, they said we are having this thought of having your statue inside the stadium. I was extremely delighted, to be honest. I did not know how to react," Tendulkar said.
"I am truly humbled when I stand here. I go to the ground, there are thousands of images that come to my head and thoughts, so many incredible memories. It is truly an honour to walk on this turf which has given me everything in life," he added.
The statue has been installed near the Sachin Tendulkar Stand at the stadium, as a tribute to Tendulkar, who turned 50 in April.
Tendulkar recalled his first-ever visit to the Wankhede Stadium and revealed that the first game that he watched at this venue was without a ticket as a 10-year-old.
"My first visit to the Wankhede Stadium was way back in 1983, I was only 10 years old. The West Indies had come to India and this was after the World Cup, the excitement was there. All my colony friends in Bandra, not 10-year-olds but my brother's friends, possibly 30-40 years old, they all decided to go for this match," he said.
"I do not know how it happened but a 10-year-old Sachin was also asked to accompany. I went along with them, we took a train at Bandra, got off at Churchgate and enjoyed the whole game. And by the way, I sat at the North Stand. We all cricketers know what the North Stand can do -- when they get behind the team no opposition can stop India and Mumbai," Tendulkar said.
The statue was crafted by Pramod Kamble -- the painter-sculptor from Ahmednagar.
Tendulkar bid farewell to his legendary career at the Wankhede Stadium, after featuring in his 200th and final Test in November 2013.
He recalled being a part of the famous North Stand gang in the stadium here, saying that when they get into the act, it gets very difficult for opponents to get the better of India.
"I was a part of the North Stand gang, I also made a lot of noise, enjoyed the game. (On) my way back home to Bandra and somebody said achcha manage kiya na? (We managed it well, didn't we?). There were 25 of us and we only had 24 tickets. I asked how did we manage? The reply came, usko Sachin ko chhupa ke le jana pada (we had to hide Sachin between us to taken him inside'," he said.
"Sometimes, being vertically challenged can also work well for you," quipped Tendulkar.
Tendulkar also said he recommended Mahendra Singh Dhoni's name as India captain in 2007, which was in a way also influenced by his ankle injury.
"I remember having a meeting with Mr Pawar (the then BCCI president) in England and I told him that as a player, my leadership role will always be there," he said.
"Only the captain's tag won't be there. But at this stage, I don't think I can last the whole day as both my ankles were giving trouble. That's the reason I suggested that Dhoni be made the captain and the rest is history," he recalled.