It was exactly an year ago, on November 16, 2013, Sachin Tendulkar melted even the stony hearted with his epic speech at the end of his long and illustrious career. The emotional speech had many lessons, but most of all it was about gratitude to those who were instrumental in playing important parts in the making of one of the biggest icons in sports. H Natarajan lists 10 take-away points from Tendulkar epic farewell speech:

1. The opening lines of his speech, “My life has been between 22 yards for 24 years,” was précis writing at its brilliant best in summing up what he stood in a focused life spanning from his teenage years to nearly two and half decades leading into his retirement.

At the end of it all, Sachin Tendulkar walked up to the Wankhede pitch and paid his humble respects for making him the cricketer he came. It was on this pitch that his journey in First-Class cricket began, it was on this pitch that he got a hundred in the Irani Trophy which got him into the Indian side and it was on this pitch, his home away from home, that has seen him script many epics.
At the end of it all, Sachin Tendulkar walked up to the Wankhede pitch and paid his humble respects for making him the cricketer he came. It was on this pitch that his journey in First-Class cricket began, it was on this pitch that he got a hundred in the Irani Trophy which got him into the Indian side and it was on this pitch, his home away from home, that has seen him script many epics.

2. There is nobody greater than the parents. Sachin Tendulkar, not one to put a wrong foot, named his late father before anyone else for what he went on to achieve. “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.” Those words reflected both gratitude and pain. Those words were also a message to millions of young mind the importance of dreaming, self-belief, without taking the wrong steps. Those words also confirmed why he looked heavenwards on reach milestones in his career.

3. Tendulkar made a request to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to host his farewell Test in Mumbai to give the many people close to his hearts the chance to see him bat one last time in a Test, but none more important than his mother, who had never seen him bat in a Test. Tendulkar, the dutiful son, had personally supervised a ramp at the Wankhede Stadium to ensure that his wheel-chair bound mother had no discomfort coming to watch him bat at the stadium. And now, at the end of it all, he spoke glowingly of the role she played in his career. What a powerful message he sent out to millions of young children with his beautiful words and deeds when it comes to acknowledging the role in shaping a child’s future!

4. It was the love, affection and care of his uncle and aunt in his school days that filled the void of his parents when he stayed away from his home in Bandra to pursue his cricketing ambitions. “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.” The uncle and aunt’s roles rarely got the credit when zillions of words were written eulogising the Little Master. But it’s a reflection of the man’s gratefulness that he gave his aunt and uncle credit next only to his biological parents — even before he named his siblings. The uncle and aunt that he spoke about never quite got the credit for their roles in the formative years of the budding maestro, but in one single moment Tendulkar gave them the stature they deserved for the quiet role they played in his becoming a champion batsman with an acknowledgement that oozed of gratitude.

5. There was a hierarchal correctness to his speech. Ajit Tendulkar may have shaped Sachin’s cricketing fortunes, but the strong middle-class upbringing and values showed when he gave the eldest brother Nitin the pedestal in the mentions, followed by his sister — two members of the low-key Tendulkar family who have remained away from the glare of the media. Tendulkar would have got hundreds of free bats in his career, but he chose to remember the first bat — a Kashmir willow —given to him by his sister Savita. “That is where the journey began,” he recalled and revealed that she “still continues to fast while I bat.”

Tednulkar's-first-ever-bat,-presented-to-him-by-his-sister-Savita
Sachin Tendulkar’s first-ever bat, a Kashmir willow presented to him by his elder sister, Savita.

6. The role of Ajit Tendulkar in Sachin’s life was one supreme sacrifice and focused devotion towards the cause of a younger; it remained from his initiation of a young Sachin into cricket, till well after he had played his final Test innings and left the stage like no other cricketer has. Everybody wanted to know what he could say about this angel in his life. “Ajit, my brother, I don’t 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 [after playing what was his dismissal in the first innings of his final Test] 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,” Tendulkar summed as best as he could about the biggest cricketing factor in his life.

7. Marriage has strong impact in most people’s life — either positively or negatively. Often behind don’t realise the role played by the wives in the success of the cricketers. If the wives were not supportive, if they don’t step in to as both father and mother for the children when the man of the house is away on tours for long stretches for years together, then it is bound to have an adverse effect on the player’s career. Tendulkar was fortunate to find a pillar of strength in Anjali, a strong and silent force who ensured Sachin’s mind was not disturbed or distracted by domestic worries. “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,” Sachin said, and termed his bonding with her as “the best partnership” of his life. This role of a wife, especially being in the unique position of being Mrs Sachin Tendulkar, was brought home in those few words in his speech.

8. People envy the glamour, glitter and the money cricketers earn, but few comprehend the sacrifices. It’s especially hard on the children, not to find the father home on their birthdays, festivals, parents’ day at school etc. Tendulkar brought out that pain when he said in his speech, “I’ve not spent enough time with you but I promise you the next 16 years or even beyond that, everything is for you.” But surely nothing can bring back their lost childhood without their father at home, nor will Tendulkar get to see his doting children growing up again as kids.

9. The in-laws, his friends, coach Ramakant Achrekar, the Mumbai Cricket Association, his fellow players, the doctors who mended his body, the marketing agents who brought the moolah for him by cashing in on Brand Tendulkar, and the media who did aplenty in building the brand were not forgotten either in his speech. This moment was almost like death sentence to him; the one thing that meant everything in his life was coming to an end. The biggest takeaway was not to forget the people — especially the little-known and unsung — who played meaningful roles in the making of the champion. The entire speech was an eloquent testimony to what gratitude is all about.

10. The ending of his speech was as powerful as the beginning, “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.” The fans are the unsung force in a celebrity’s life. Few remember to thank them. Tendulkar was certainly not going to be one of them.

(H Natarajan is a journalistic schizophrenic who oscillates between two polar opposite forms of writing — analytical and insightful on the one hand, and rib-tickling humour on the other)