Indian cricket superstar Sachin Tendulkar on Friday remembered South Africa's anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela as a "truly inspirational human being" who would live in his "heart forever".
Tendulkar was part of the Indian team that toured South Africa in 1992-93, the first side to play a Test series after it was brought back into the sporting mainstream following an apartheid-induced ban.
The touring squad met Mandela, who was then yet to become president, at the African National Congress headquarters in Johannesburg and presented him with a bat signed by all the team members.
The players got another opportunity to meet Mandela when he came to the Wanderers stadium in Johannesburg to watch a match.
"When I met Mr Mandela it was one of the most memorable days of my life," Tendulkar, who retired last month as the world's leading Test and one-day batsman, tweeted on Friday.
"A truly inspirational human being. He will live on in my heart forever. R.I.P."
South Africa had earlier toured India in November, 1991, for three hastily-arranged one-day matches, the first of which at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata drew a record crowd of 100,000 fans.
But it was the historic Test tour a year later, billed as the "Friendship series" by the then United Cricket Board of South Africa that provided a glimpse of the country's love for cricket.
Former Indian opener Sunil Gavaskar, who had retired five years earlier, was emotionally moved to be recognised by an elderly white gentleman while on a visit to the Table mountains in Cape Town.
"You are Mr Gavaskar, aren't you?," the man asked. When told that was correct, he said: "I had only read about how good a batsman you were and always wanted to meet you. Now I can go in peace."