Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

My Going Teetotal? It Seems a Bigger Deal to Everyone Else. ; Cricket and Drinking Were a Big Part of Freddie Flintoff's Life. the Retired England Captain Talks Candidly to Lisa Salmon about How He's Happier Than Ever Now He's Quit Bothfit Forfame

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

My Going Teetotal? It Seems a Bigger Deal to Everyone Else. ; Cricket and Drinking Were a Big Part of Freddie Flintoff's Life. the Retired England Captain Talks Candidly to Lisa Salmon about How He's Happier Than Ever Now He's Quit Bothfit Forfame

Article excerpt

ANDREW 'Freddie' Flintoff is happy. Not because he's just played cricket, or had a few drinks, but simply because life is pretty great right now.

The ebullient former England cricket captain, famed for his drinking and larger-than-life character, as well as his impressive all-round performances on the cricket field, is no longer under pressure to win on the pitch, has quit drinking, has a successful media career, and a solid family life.

And, crucially, he admits he's finally grown up.

"Everything's brilliant," he declares. "I don't play cricket now and that's fine. I do a lot of things that I enjoy workwise, and my family's amazing.

"It's actually really nice - I'm 37 and I don't think I've ever been happier."

He agrees that some of this contentment stems from maturity, and admits: "I think it's growing up.

"I know a lot more about myself and I understand myself a bit better, and coupled with having a great family, there's not too much in my life that I can get disheartened or worried about."

LIFE AFTER CRICKET THE father-of-three has carved out an impressive and diverse career outside cricket, from which he officially retired in 2010 (although he came out of retirement last year to play Twenty20 cricket for Lancashire). As well as TV appearances, including being a team captain on hit Sky 1 quiz show A League of Their Own with Jack Whitehall and James Corden, and winning the Australian version of I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!, Freddie has tried his hand at boxing, winning his only professional fight in November 2012. He's also written a fair few books about himself and his cricket career, including latest release, Second Innings: My Sporting Life.

He says: "Out of all of my books, this is the one that gives more of an insight - it's very open, I've got no qualms about talking about my life."

DRINKING ONE of the many entertaining tales in the new book centres around England losing heavily in the Second Test against South Africa in 2003.

Freddie got very drunk with teammate Steve Harmison the night before he was due to bat, and when the drunken pair were spotted by team captain Michael Vaughan, Freddie rashly bet him Pounds 100 he'd score a century.

Despite a horrendous hangover the next day, he scored 142.

"That was one good story, but there've been a few when it didn't happen like that," he confesses wryly.

He was famously pictured looking worse for wear on an open top bus tour through London and at a Downing Street reception after England beat Australia to win the 2005 Ashes series.

And he was sacked as the England vice-captain in 2007 after getting drunk and taking a pedalo out to sea in St Lucia following a World Cup loss.

But he says: "There were times when I didn't drink nearly as much as people thought. But I didn't mind them thinking that. I wanted people to think I was different. …

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