"I have had a chance over the last three weeks to try and think about what playing for India meant to me; what was this dream; what has it given me? Playing for India gave me the opportunity to travel the world, to play on some of the greatest grounds in the world. In cities and countries that I had only heard of on the radio, listening to radio commentary with my father or waking up in the morning and picking up the newspaper to see what Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, GR Viswanath had done the next day. For me, to have the opportunity to play on these great grounds, to play against some of these greatest players -- players that I had growing up looking upto, it was fantastic. Cricket has given me a lifetime of experiences," he said.
"It has made me give joy to a lot of people by just playing a sport that I love. I have experiences some unbelievable victories and crushing defeats in my career as a first-class cricketer. What I have realised with it is everything does pass, and we can endure and we can survive. Playing for India humbled me. It made me appreciate how lucky I was: to be able to do what I did for so long," the former India captain added.
Dravid also took the opportunity to thank everyone who had been part of his wonderful journey in cricket, ranging from his coaches to the groundstaff who prepared pitches on whichever grounds he played.
"When I look back on this long journey, you recognise that you have been very fortunate, very lucky. You have had the support of so many people who have made this dream possible for me. I truly feel that I have been in some ways at the right place, at the right time.
"For me to be able to standing here in front of some of my heroes, people whom I admire, people whom I respect and to be able to talk to you all, I think, it has not been culmination of not my efforts but the efforts of so many people who have gone into making this wonderful day possible.
"I probably miss out a few people when I speak and I hope that they forgive me. But I would like to put on record and recognise so many people who were behind the scenes, the groundsmen, the scorers, the umpires, the people who organise matches. Wherever you go in India there are so many people who selflessly do honorary jobs to make this game possible for us, to set the stage for us; without their contributions these hundreds would not have been possible, these memories would not have been possible," he said.
He also paid tribute to his coaches, starting from his first coach, the late Keki Tarapore, who was instrumental in shaping his career.
"When I look back on the various coaches that I have had, right from the time of the late Keki Tarapore, who first taught me the basics of the game, to the so many coaches through my time at Karnataka, through all the international coaches that I have had, I feel each of them has added to my game. Each of them helped me become a better cricketer, and a better person. For that I am thankful."
Among the guests present at the function were former India greats Sunil Gavaskar, Ajit Wadekar and Bishen Singh Bedi among others. And Dravid took the opportunity to thank all former Indian cricketers.
"When I stand here and I look at some of the senior players who have been kind enough to come for this occasion, I feel really lucky. As a young boy I dreamed of just being able to get an autograph out of them, just to be able to meet them. This sport has given me a chance to interact with some of them. I would like to thank all my senior cricketers, all my heroes, all my role models for...