Sachin Tendulkar is not alien to honours but the cricket icon said the Padma Vibhushan award, which he received from President Pratibha Patil in New Delhi on Monday, was close to his heart.
"I'm very happy, it's difficult to explain in words," an overwhelmed Tendulkar said after receiving the award.
"In 18 years, I have received several awards but this one is close to my heart. I'm happy that the government has acknowledged my contribution," he added.
The champion batsman, who is the captain of the Mumbai team in the ongoing Indian Premier League Twenty20 competition, is currently missing the action due to a groin injury.
Tendulkar's wife Anjali, who accompanied the cricketer at the prestigious ceremony, said, "I'm proud of him. Sachin plays from the heart and he does not need an award to perform better."
Swimmer Bula Chowdhury Chakraborty received the Padma Shri award from the President at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Monday.