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Cricket news - 'Cricket has given me everything I have'

After 25 years and 17 years of international cricket on and off, I have decided to move on.

Yuvraj Singh called it a day from international and first-class cricket on June 10, ending a career that spanned two decades in the top circuit. Here's a transcript of what he spoke on the occasion of his retirement:

I'll like to extend a very warm welcome to my friends from the media, my family, friends and fans from all across the world who are going to be a part of what is a very difficult and at the same time a very beautiful moment for me. I can't really put it in words but I will try. After 25 years [pause], and in 22 yards and 17 years of international cricket on and off, I have decided to move on. Thank you for taking the time out to be here and to support me.

Cricket has given me everything I have and is the reason why I stand here today. It was a love-hate relationship with the sport, in retrospect. I don't think I hated this game because of the love I have for it today, which will remain constant until the end of life.

I can't really explain in words what is that feeling. This game taught me how to fight. How to fall, to dust myself off, to get up again and move forward. I have failed more times than I have succeeded but I never gave up. And will never give up till my last breath, and that's what cricket has taught me.

I gave my blood and sweat to the game once I got into it, especially when it came to representing my country. Since my childhood, I always tried to fulfil my father's dream to play for India and win the World Cup, and I can say I was lucky to have achieved it. I am thankful every day to the almighty, both my gurujis - Lt Sant Baba Ajit Singh Ji, Sant Baba Ram Singh ji - and my mother and my father, who guided me on the right path through this entire journey. I am hoping that each day one of you, who matter in my life, are proud of what I have achieved on and off the field. And to my true fans, who have always supported me endlessly, I can't thank you enough, especially when the times were tough.

As I go back in time today, my life has been like a roller coaster ride. Winning the 2011 World Cup, being Man of the Series, four Man of the Match awards was a dream. Which was followed by a harsh reality - getting diagnosed with cancer. It was like touching the sky and then falling down at light speed and hitting the ground hard as all of this happened so quickly and when I was at the peak of my career. But at that moment, everyone I knew to whom I mattered stood together for me, my fans, my friends, my family. Thank you to both my doctors, Dr. Nitesh Rahotagi who took me for treatment to Dr. Lawrence Einhorn in the US who also treated Lance Armstrong.

This brings me to my next focus in life - which is to help cancer patients through my foundation YouWe Can. At YouWe Can, we spread awareness about cancer and help the underprivileged by conduction screening camps, funding their treatments and sponsoring the education of the underprivileged cancer kids. We have also started our own merchandising arm, YWC for the foundation to help generate funds for the cause.

I really want to make a difference to the society by setting examples through my inspiring story. On a lighter note, I would say I am extremely lucky to play 400-plus games for India. I would have not imagined doing this when I started my career as a cricketer.

Though this journey, some matches that remain in my memory were the 2002 NatWest final, my first Test hundred in Lahore in 2004, the 2007 Test series in England, of course, the six sixes and the 2007 T20 WC. And then, the most memorable was the 2011 World Cup final. And then, probably, the worst day in my career was the 2014 T20 WC final against Sri Lanka when I scored 11 off 21 balls. It was so shattering that I felt my career was over. And I was written off by everyone to an extent that made me feel, at times, that it was all over. Then I took a bit of time and that's when I realised why I play cricket. It's because I love the game. So I went back to basics and scored heavily in domestic cricket and about a year and a half later, I made my comeback in T20 for India, where I hit a six and four in the last over against Australia in Sydney and suddenly all the belief came right back.

I was still in and out of the team while after scoring almost 700 runs in five games in domestic cricket. I finally made my comeback in one-day cricket after three years in Cuttack on January 18 against England in 2017. I recorded my highest one-day score of 150 in 127 balls when everybody said it was impossible. Trust me, I have never stopped believing in myself. No matter what the world says, believe in yourself because if you put your heart and soul into it, you can achieve the impossible.

Cricket has given me some great friends and seniors. I started my career under Sourav Ganguly's captaincy and got an opportunity to play with my idol, the great Sachin Tendulkar, and other legends like Anil Kumble, VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid and Javagal Srinath. My close friends, who I grew up playing cricket with for India who also went to becoming great match winners for the country such as Zak [Zaheer Khan], Gauti [Gautam Gambhir], Veeru [Virender Sehwag], Ashu [Ashish Nehra] and Bhajju [Harbhajan Singh]. I made some great friends and some not such great friends playing for so many years. This is the same batch that created history and went on to win the World Cup under the great captaincy of MS Dhoni and exceptional coaching of Gary Kristen, probably the best international coach I played under.

I would like to thank the selectors and Sourav Ganguly who picked me and gave me the opportunity to play for India in 2000. Selectors such as Mr. Chandu Borde, TA Sekar and others. I would also like to thank all my support staff, who made it possible for my body to last this long. Especially, Nitish Patel and Ashish Kaushik.

I would like to thank national team coaches, various IPL team owners and staff, ground staff, anyone and everyone who helped me focus on cricket by taking care of the other things around it.

I played with some great teams, like Pakistan - winning and losing in 2004, 2006 and 2007, with Australia losing to them in 2003 World Cup finals and beating them in 2007 T20 WC semifinals and again beating them in 2011 quarterfinals of the World Cup. There were some epic battles and I will always cherish these memories for the rest of my life.

The adrenaline rush playing for India, singing the national anthem before each game, touching the Indian flag, stopping every run for the team or scoring every run for the team, was a completely different high. To be a part of history that was made after 28 years, I mean honestly, what more could I have asked for.

Last, and most importantly, I would like to thank m family, my mother who is present here today. My loving mother who has been a pillar of strength and I feel has given me birth twice. My loving wife, Hazel [Keech], who has stood by me in my tough times. Mu close friends who get sick of me but are always there for me. Everybody who I love is here today, except my dad. Thank me, my friends and media, that he is not here today and just his message.

I think it's a perfect day to move on. And last, I would like to thank the media, my well-wishers in media, for capturing this lovely journey. I hope you'll be there for me in my next journey as well.

And a very special thank you to the entire team of Endemol for putting this film together and the entire team of Wizcraft for putting this on-ground event together.

Thank you, once again. This has been a lovely journey. See you on the other side.

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