From his debut in 1998 up until his injury forced retirement in July 2009, Flintoff was an integral part of the England team in both Test and One Day Cricket and became one of the all time greats. Fred both captained and Vice captained the team in this period and was also a vital member of the team that regained the Ashes from Australia in 2005. He played 79 test for England and 141 ODI's. Flintoff is the second highest English Wicket Taker in ODI's with 159 wickets and 10th highest in Tests with 218 wickets. Flintoff also holds the record for the most sixes scored for England. His record is fantastic and he drew many comparisons to England's best ever, Beefy Botham, however, it is also his personality and love of boozing that accelerated Freddie into being one of the most adored sportsman of the modern era.
Whilst there were many highs in his career these were matched by just as many lows, and it was the way he overcame these lows that makes him the maverick he is. He wasn't an instant hit with the British Press, who criticised him for being overweight during the early stages of his England career. Freddie soon silenced his doubters with back to back man of the match performances. He instantly remarked to the press 'that wasn't bad for a fat lad' and celebrated with a shirt off celebration - a first for the gentleman's game of Cricket! His career flourished and hit its peak at the 2005 Ashes in which he was named 'man of the series' by the Aussie Coach. Two images following England's euphoric win reflected the inspirational nature of Fred. Firstly his sporting (and gentleman-like) nature on the pitch in consoling Australia's Brett Lee after England beat Australia by 1 run at Edgbaston; the second, the state of Flintoff as he stumbled on the team bus for an open top tour of London! Whilst most of the team turned in at 4am in preparation to greet the crowds of London, Fred carried on boozing in the bar with members of the public until his wife had to dress him in his suit! One too many was usual for Fred and this cost him his captaincy after being caught out at 3am boozed to his eyeballs stranded in the sea on a pedalo in the West Indies during the World Cup. The incident became known as the 'Fredalo' incident. Flintoff is a Cricketer much missed by the English public and if it wasn't for injury or copious amounts of alcohol, he may well still be playing today.
Instead, Fred can now be seen strutting his stuff on Morrisons adverts, is a team captain on Sky1's Sports show 'A League of their own' and also holds 15 Guinness World Records in aid of Sport Relief. He has started the 'Flintoff Foundation' in aid of charity - some may think his outlandish days are behind him but these efforts just reflect the nature of the man.
The closest to the 'old boozing Fred' in the public eye is that he can often be seen hosting groups of VIPs in private bars at England test matches holding a pie and a beer....
That was the closest until a month ago when he had one sharpener too many once again at a Sky party and openly remarked to a journalist that his Sky colleague and former Test Cricketer, Michael Atherton was a 'C*nt, he's a f*cking c*nt, there's no love lost there'.
That's the Fred we love.
By Chris Davis