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Arguably Andrew’s greatest victory on the cricket pitch was his pivotal role in the 2005 Ashes-winning England team. The win made him an household name, lauded as one of the best England all-rounders of all time. Behind the scenes, he was battling with depression, and he has been praised for speaking out about mental health awareness. After retiring from sport he has gone on to become a media personality, moving from cricket coverage to entertainment, appearing on panel shows like A League of Their Own, and co-hosting Top Gear.
Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff has gone from being one of the leading and best-known cricketers of his era to presenter of one of the biggest shows on television in Top Gear. Famed as a player as a big personality on and off the pitch, he was a key part of the team that regained the Ashes after a twenty-year absence. Since retiring he’s become a regular in the sporting and non-sporting media from live match coverage to comedy panel shows.
An impressive cricketer from a young age, Andrew joined Lancashire at eighteen and by twenty-one was making his test debut. Despite inconsistencies and injuries, a personal focus on his own fitness and performance saw him become a fundamental part of both batting and bowling orders, and he was rated as one of the best all-rounders in the world. In what has become one of the most famous Ashes victories of all time, England won a nail-biting series to regain the urn after almost two decades in Australian hands. Breaking records on the way to a 141-run score, alongside taking seven wickets, Andrew was vital to England’s win in the Edgbaston test, a decisive victory in the series and a game dubbed ‘Fred’s Test’. He went on to be named Man of the Series, and was awarded BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
He would later captain the England team during a transitional period that saw him help build a new generation of winners, including future Ashes-winning captain Alistair Cook. However, injury as well personal and mental health issues, which he would reveal in later years, took their toll and the man who’d played such an instrumental role in England’s historic Ashes win saw his side go down to a 5-0 whitewash in Australia.
After retirement, Andrew attracted a great deal of praise for speaking about his mental health and he has become a committed campaigner on the issue. During his playing years Andrew maintained a public image of a larger-than-life, hard-living sportsman, but privately he struggled with depression. In the BBC One programme Freddie Flintoff: Hidden Side of Sport, he and other sportspeople spoke candidly about their mental health and the pressures they faced.
Through ups and downs, Andrew has remained a hugely charismatic figure. In retirement he was much in demand in the media. Initially as a commentator and pundit on live coverage, as well as in marketing and advertising campaigns, but then to broader audiences. He won the Australian version of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here (despite the Ashes victory Andrew remains a hugely popular figure down under). He also became a team captain on Sky’s sporting panel show A League of Their Own, fronted sports and factual programmes on TV and radio, and appeared on everything from Loose Women to 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown. He also became one of the presenters on the global hit, Top Gear.
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