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Swann pays tribute to "superstar" Flintoff

England spinner Graeme Swann says Andrew Flintoff's retirement from cricket is a "sad day" - adding that Flintoff changed the face of cricket in England.

Swann played alongside Flintoff in the England side which won back the Ashes urn from Australia in 2009, after Flintoff had helped England to victory in 2005.

Swann said the man known as 'Freddie' Flintoff was a "superstar":

"It’s a sad day because he was hoping to come back from injury. If he can’t come back form it then it is sad but so be it.

"It is a shame because any team with Fred in is a better side for it and it is a shame for everyone involved with English cricket.

"He changed the face of cricket in England because he is the first real celebrity we’ve had for a while.

"He was one of those cricketers who could change a match at the drop of a hat.

"His stats probably don’t back up how good a player he was but I think everyone realised he could be world-class on his day.

Superstar Flintoff

"I’m loaded because of Fred. That 2005 Ashes was a pivotal moment for English cricket because it was a brilliant summer and everyone was watching the cricket.

"Suddenly Fred became a superstar and deservedly so for the way he played in that Ashes. It raised the profle of cricket and Fred amongst the whole team was probably the biggest amongst it.

"I played against him when I was about 9 or 10 and he was the only guy who could bowl bouncers. He used to open the bowling with [England footballer] Phil Neville. He was massive, he was about six foot when he was 10.

"He was always the same big personality as well. He’s never been shy to offer his opinion on things and be the playmaker in the team - that’s why he was such a loveable rogue for the English public to get behind and adore.

"He was important in the 2009 Ashes because he got the Australians out when we won that game at Lord’s. That was his big contribution in the series and was the most important thing.

"After the Ashes we haven’t seen Fred and this team is bigger than any one individual but it is nice when you get an individual who comes along and can win games off his own back.

"You need someone who the opposition fear and that was Fred."

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