With Yuvraj Singh celebrating his 36th birthday on Tuesday (December 11), messages poured in from all quarters, but Sachin Tendulkar‘s message was perhaps the best of the lot for a player who is idolised by millions not only for his on-the-field exploits but also for his exemplary fightback off the field.

Arguably India’s greatest match-winner in the limited-overs format,  Yuvraj had become the toast of the nation with his stunning performances in the 2011 World Cup. He was putting in heroic performances in almost every match, but  little did everyone know that with every passing day he was putting his life at stake. A giant tumour, eventually 15cm x 11cm x 13 cm was growing within the southpaw and was pressing against a lung and artery as he was taking the country closer to the World Cup. The star batsman couldn’t sleep, was finding it tough to breathe, but those ordeals did not stop him from putting in a stunning performance.

The squatting on the haunches during his laborious century against the West Indies to help India top the group, the warcry after hitting the winning four against Australia to help his team qualify for the semi-finals are still fresh in every cricket fan’s mind. India went on to win the title, and Yuvraj deservedly bagged the Man of the Tournament award, but all the happiness soon turned into despair when he was diagnosed with cancer, ten months after his World Cup heroics.

But the fighter he is, Yuvraj defeated cancer too and miraculously returned to the cricket field. Earlier this year, he was recalled in the ODI side after a three-year gap and proved his worth by playing a career-best knock of 150 against England. He is currently out of the team and is trying his best to return to the side as soon as possible and Sachin’s birthday message can just turn out to be the catalyst he is searching for.

Wishing the southpaw, Sachin tweeted: “There are champions, and then there are fighters. For me, you are both. Wishing you a very happy birthday, Yuvi. May you have a successful year ahead.”