Mumbai: Sachin Tendulkar was a star ever before he made it to the international arena, being a run-machine for Shardashram Vidyamandir - the school that now basks in the glory of its most cherished student.
Tendulkar, with his school friend and later India team-mate Vinod Kambli, went on to add a record 664 runs in a school game. That perhaps was the start of Tendulkar's journey to becoming India's favourite cricketing son.
As Tendulkar readies himself to walk into the sunset of his career, CNN-IBN visits his school to talk to people who had seen Tendulkar grow into a man and then go on to become a global phenomenon.
For more than 25 years now, a dog-eared notebook documenting the exploits of her most famous pupil has been a matter of much pride for Mrs. Ragini Desai, PT teacher at Dadar's Shardashram Vidyamandir, the school that Tendulkar made famous.
Sachin's first ever entry into record books, says Mrs. Desai, earned him the wrath of his childhood coach Ramakant Achrekar. "Achrekar sir asked us to declare, but they [Tendulkar and Kambli] continued to play and went on to add 664. Sir said 'You played well, but I told you to declare.' He then scolded the whole team."
With more than 50 Ranji players and a dozen internationals having walked the hallways of Shardashram, the school had become a prized nursery of cricket.
"Even today, parents from Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana come to take admission in Shardashram because here Sachin, Kambli, [Ajit] Agarkar were produced - so they beleive there must be something special," says the school principal KR Shirsat.
The Tendulkar dream brought the now Madhya Pradesh Ranji player Anand Singh to Mumbai as an 11-year-old. In hope that Sachin's alma mater would hone his skills, Anand's father got him admitted to Shardashram. "I started as paying guest in Mumbai - didn't know anyone, went from ground to school to ground. I have learned everything by looking at him [Tendulkar]," says Anand.
Tendulkar's first captain at Shardashram, Mayur Kadrekar, says it was difficult to beat them with Tendulkar in the eleven. "We never thought of losing when he was in the team. [With] All big hundreds [he made], we only wondered when the match would end. He used to practice 5 nets and then go have a knock around. He would never sit idle," he said.
Come November 14th - when Tendulkar takes the field one last time in his 200th Test - a billion plus will feel sad and perhaps a tear will roll down the cheek. But there's nothing that Tendulkar hasn't achieved in his marathon career spanning almost quarter of a century. That makes it a moment to rejoice and thank the master for bringing smiles on the faces for 24 glorious years.