A young boy growing up in the seaside city of Galle in the Southwestern tip of Sri Lanka used to play on the beaches with his friends.
No one would have thought that this kid with the dyed hair and pierced eyebrows will be running into bowl toe crushers and terrorizing batsmen all over the world for more than a decade.
A career which has seen everything, from knee injuries to appearing in two World Cup finals to winning three IPL titles.
In his farewell speech, Malinga spoke about a player has to be a match-winner to survive for long in professional cricket. He is the epitome of exactly that, a match-winner. Someone who could turn the game on its head.
In the age of video analysis, bowlers are "found out" and the some of them are pushed into oblivion. But Malinga wasn't one of them.
He continued to evolve himself and even in the twilight of his career, when pace had abandoned him, the slow yorkers made him a match-winner.
It is not often that a player who has played 30 Tests and less than 250 ODIs is so revered by teammates and competitors alike. This is a testament to the impact that Malinga had on the game. The Sri Lankan pacer remained a vital cog in any team he was a part of.
It is not every day that the owners would fly a player in and out of the country so that he can play an IPL match and then appear for his Provincial team in a matter of hours.
The impact he made off the field as well is undeniable. Millions of kids would have tried to impersonate his action at least once.
As Lasith Malinga retires ODI cricket, the legacy he leaves behind is already visible. From Jaspreet Bumrah to thousands of budding bowlers all over the world, have directly or indirectly benefitted by observing and working alongside him.
At a time when some semblance of continuity seems to have returned to Sri Lankan Cricket post the World Cup, Malinga will continue to inspire the young team that anything is possible to achieve as long as you believe.
Great retirements are those which happen when people ask "why" instead of "when" and Malinga certainly has accomplished the former. Malinga's grace and humility will continue to inspire generations to come. He wishes to play till the T20 World Cup in 2020 but the curtain has come down on the ODI career of a modern-day legend.Published 30 Jul 2019, 10:36 IST