New Delhi: Seven weeks of Indian Premier League has turned Paul Valthaty from a rank outsider to a household name and he is enjoying every bit of his stardom but is keen to retain the humility which has been the hallmark of his two role models - Sachin Tendulkar and Roger Federer.
"I have always looked up to Roger Federer and Sachin Tendulkar for inspiration. They are the true champions and their achievements really inspires me," the Kings XI Punjab player said during an interaction.
When asked about how much life has changed post-IPL, he said, "It feels nice that people recognise you. But for my friends, I am the same Paul that I used to be before IPL. They would play the same pranks and call me by those nicknames that has stuck with me for years.
Playing for Kings XI Punjab in IPL-4, Paul Valthaty was a revelation with 463 runs and seven wickets.
"I am indebted to friends like Abhishek Nayar, Bhavik Thakkar, Kshemal Waigankar who supported me after my eye-injury. Those were tough days and these guys stood by me.
"I would also mention about my employers Air India who helped me as I was regularly getting my salary," said an emotional Valthaty.
With 463 runs and seven wickets in the fourth edition of the IPL, Valthaty's new challenge will be to prove his detractors wrong that he is a 'one-season wonder' like Swapnil Asnodkar who was smash-hit for Rajasthan Royals in the first edition before fading into oblivion.
"I believe that I can repeat my performance in the next edition also. I would like to do what players like Shaun Marsh and Rohit Sharma has been doing. They have performed well in more than one editions of IPL," Valthaty, who is confident of donning the KXIP colours next season, said.
He thanked KXIP skipper Adam Gilchrist for leading from the front.
"Gilly has been a huge inspiration for all of us. The way he gelled with the boys and helped the Indian players was great."
The former India colts player was dismissive when asked whether there was any disappointment for not making it to the ODI squad for the tour of Caribbean.
"I was too pre-occupied with my IPL commitments and I never really had a chance to think about it. It was media speculations and I really didn't think about it."
Having set his sights for a good show in the inaugural Sri Lankan Premier League, Valthaty's bigger challenge will be to break into the Mumbai Ranji trophy squad.
"I had scored a century in the Times Shield last year but I know one century won't help. I have to score a few more in order to break into the Ranji squad as it is difficult to change Mumbai mindset," he quipped.
He doesn't want to encourage any negative thoughts about what if he can't make it to the Mumbai team.
"I don't want to think about 'ifs' and 'buts'. It's still a long way and I want to focus on working hard," he concluded.