Representing the country for 20 years is no mean achievement and it shows Sachin’s dedication and the hard work he has put in to become the best batsman in the world. I should know what it takes to play at the highest level for a long period as I’ve played hockey for India for 16 years.
I have met him many times and we usually talk in Marathi. There’s a mutual respect and he cares for other sports also and helps people quietly, without advertising it and that’s what all celebrities should do. One particular incident is a lesson for every celebrity.
I’ve played in the Malaysian league and have many friends there. One of them has named his son after Sachin. A few years ago when Sachin went to Malaysia, my friend wanted his four-year-old son to meet the man he was named after, and called me from outside the hotel to arrange a meeting.
I requested him to take some time out for the kid. Sachin not only obliged but gave some presents to the boy and sat him on his shoulders for a photograph. The boy was very thrilled and still cherishes those moments.
That incident made me realise what a great person Sachin is. He has earned so much fame and money but his feet are still grounded. That’s the hallmark of a sound upbringing. He’s got this ability of not letting things get to his head. This is one thing every celebrity should learn from him.
(Pillay, the former India hockey captain, spoke to B Shrikant)