Legendary Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar on Sunday confirmed that he has ended the association with  Kerala Blasters, saying “a piece of my heart will always beat” for the Indian Super League (ISL) club.

“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 after selling off his stakes in Kerala Blasters before the start of the new Indian Premier League football season.

Tendulkar has been associated with the franchise since its inception in 2014 and is currently one of the co-owners along with industrialist Nimmagadda Prasad, producer Allu Arjun, actors Nagarjuna and Chiranjeevi.

“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. 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,” the batting great said in the statement.

“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,” it added.

There are rumours that a billionaire industrialist with interest in hypermarket chain and shopping malls will be buying Tendulkar’s stake.

The 45-year-old had bought the Kochi-based franchise back in April 2014 along with entrepreneur Prasad V Potluri. In 2015, Potluri and his company PVP Ventures sold off their stakes and Tendulkar had then become 40 per cent stakeholder in the franchise. In 2016, Prasad along with the heavyweights of Southern film industry joined forces with Tendulkar.

It was learnt that while they bought the 60 per cent stakes, an additional 20 per cent was bought from Tendulkar also.

(With PTI inputs)