NEW DELHI: Sachin Tendulkar Sunday said "a piece of my heart will always beat" for Kerala Blasters, after selling off his stakes in the franchise before the start of the new Indian Super League football season.
Tendulkar has always been an integral part of the Blasters set-up and was often seen cheering the team from the stands in home and away games.
"In its fifth year, it is important that the club puts the building blocks for the next five years and beyond. It is also a time for me to reflect on the role that I should play. After reflecting and much discussion with my team, I have decided to exit my association with Kerala Blasters as a co-promoter," Tendulkar said in a statement.
"I strongly believe that Kerala Blasters is in very good shape and on its path to attain many more successes with the backing of its fans offering unconditional support. I am very proud of Kerala Blasters and a piece of my heart will always beat for the club."
Tendulkar has been associated with the franchise since its inception in 2014.
"Over the last four years, Kerala Blasters Football Club has been an integral part of my life. I have undergone all the emotions that millions of Kerala Blasters fans have undergone during this period.
"My association with Kerala Blasters was driven with the intent to reignite the passion for the game and give the many fans and the abundant talent in Kerala, a national platform to express themselves.
"It has been a thrilling experience to chase this pursuit and something which I will always cherish," the batting great said in the statement.
Kerala Blasters finished as runners-up in the inaugural edition of ISL in 2014 and 2016, both time going down to ATK in the summit showdown.
Kerala Blasters later issued a statement.
"The existing 80 percent shareholders of KBFC comprising IQuest, Mr Chiranjeevi and Mr Allu Arvind have entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Sachin Tendulkar's 20 percent stake in the club, the franchise said in the statement.
"Any other news regarding the shareholding is purely speculative in nature. Sachin has been a great support and we thank him for his immense contribution to KBFC. He will forever be a member of the Yellow Army.
As it has been, we will continue to uphold and take forward, the spirit of the sport, spirit of the fans and the spirit of Kerala."