Mumbai: He is the Yuvraj of Indian hockey but unlike his better known cricketing counterpart, Yuvraj Walmiki`s life wasn`t exactly a bed of roses before Asian Champions Trophy happened.
From living in a shanty in Marine Lines without electricity all his life to becoming the next big thing in Indian hockey, it has been an arduous journey for the youngster.
The 21-year-old`s home in the compound of Niranjan Housing Society, wore a festive look on Wednesday with several welcome back placards and was flooded with a throng of visitors -- relatives, friends, mediapersons, well-wishers and curious onlookers.
Back home to a hero`s welcome at the domestic airport here this morning after starring in India`s triumph over arch- rivals Pakistan in the Asian Champion`s Trophy final, Yuvraj, whose roots lie in Aligarh district of Uttar Pradesh, was felicitated by the two estranged Thackeray cousins Uddhav and Raj, who champion the cause of `Marathi Manoos`.
"Everyone has problems. But it is how you handle them that is important. I have never let these affect me when I stepped on the hockey ground. Many people have helped me at various stages," he told reporters.
He was quick to recall the contributions of his friend Boon D`Souza, who introduced him to hockey, `Bawa sir`, who coached him since his early days, and former India skipper Dhanraj Pillay, who after discovering his potential got him a contract with Air India in 2007.