\"I never thought I would play for India that long and that my journey would be so fulfilling,\" said Dravid.
Bangalore: Rahul Dravid announced his international retirement in a press conference here on Friday.
The 39-year-old, who made his Test debut in 1996 and represented India in 164 Tests and 344 ODIs, was emotional when he made the official announcement.
"I would like to announce my retirement from international and domestic cricket. It's been 16 years since I played my first Test for India. It's been a wonderful journey. I never thought I would play for India that long and that my journey would be so fulfilling," Dravid, sitting beside BCCI president N Srinivasan and the former India legspinner Anil Kumble, told a jam-packed media room at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.
"The time has come for me to move on, for youngsters to take over and to take the team forward even further. I have many people to thank for supporting me, teaching me and believing in my ability. I thank all my coaches from when I was growing up as a cricketer. I thank all my international coaches. They helped me to become the player I became.
"The physios and the trainers. I also thank the BCCI for providing me the platform and the facilities. But, the most of the all, I thank the teams I was part of. I know what I am going to miss the most. It is being part of the team. I was lucky to be part of a great team. Of course, I want to thanks my parents and my wife for doing what they did. Families are very important for a cricketer. They create a positive environment which is essential. I now look forward to spending time with my family.
"I would also like to thank the Indian fans across the world. The game is lucky to have you. I hope I have lived up to your expectations. I have failed at times but I never stopped trying hard. That's why I retire with sadness and pride," he concluded.
Kumble, who shared the Indian dressing room with Dravid for many years, was wholeseom in praising the batsman. "I congratulate you on having a glorious and incomparable career. I have enjoyed every run you have scored. It has been a great honour playing alongside you.
"He [Dravid] has been a quiet, unassuming player all these years. His commitment towards the game is unmatched. I am honoured to have shared the same dressing room with him. He has been a perfect ambassador for cricket. Rahul, you are responsible for many youngsters taking up the game in Karnataka."
Srinivasan also paid his tributes to the 2004 ICC Player of the Year. "All of us are proud of what he has achieved. He is one of the finest cricketers India has ever produced. To see him play with great commitment was a sheer privilege. He has been a great role model for everyone, for team-mates, for fans. I'm sure it was a hard decision for him. It's a sad day for me personally. I know him from the time when he was a club cricketer. Thank you Rahul for what you have given to Indian cricket. The BCCI is extremely honoured that you have been part of the team."