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Freddie 'an absolute beauty'

Lee was famously consoled by England all-rounder at Edgbaston

Handshake: Lee and Flintoff at Edgbaston in 2005

Handshake: Lee and Flintoff at Edgbaston in 2005

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Australia fast bowler Brett Lee has described his former Ashes foe Andrew Flintoff as "a wonderful person".

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"He always gave his heart and soul, the moments we have had on the field and also the moments off the field are what make Andrew Flintoff the wonderful person he is."

Brett Lee

Quotes of the week

Flintoff has decided to retire from all forms of cricket on medical grounds and Lee believes the game will miss the former England all-rounder.

"He always gave his heart and soul, the moments we have had on the field and also the moments off the field are what make Andrew Flintoff the wonderful person he is," he said.

"He's a guy that has given his all, he has been great for world cricket. His sportsmanship is second to none - he's an absolute beauty."

One of the highlights of Flintoff's career was the 2005 Ashes triumph over Australia in which he played a pivotal role.

And the magnanimous way in which he celebrated the narrow win in the Edgbaston Test - choosing to console Lee rather than go to his England team-mates after Steve Harmison took the final wicket of Michael Kasprowicz - has left an impression on the New South Welshman.

Sportsmanship

"It was one of my favourite games, purely the way that it was played, the sportsmanship that was on show," he added.

"They are the moments I will cherish and it's sad that I won't get the opportunity again to play against Freddie again."

When asked exactly what Flintoff said in their embrace, Lee said: "Something like 'bad luck mate, we tried very hard to get you out but we didn't think it would come down to the last two or three runs but I will see you inside for a beer after'.

"And that sums up Andrew Flintoff, a guy that wears his heart on his sleeve and plays amazing cricket with bat and ball and in the field."

Adam Gilchrist, another Australian to have done battle with Flintoff in the Ashes, also paid tribute to the Lancastrian.

"To hear someone say they're sad and disappointed tells me that it's been cut a bit shorter than he would have liked," Gilchrist said.

"England owe him a lot because (in) 2005 where he just at all costs, was going to deliver those Ashes for his country.

"I don't think his body ever really recovered from that, the sustained pressure that he put on himself and endured."