Published: 18 February 2012
England cricketer Freddie Flintoff:
The prized possession you value above all others...My Lancashire Under 11s cap I got when I was nine for a few good batting and bowling performances. It’s light blue with a gold rose bud on the front and I was so chuffed and surprised when I got it that I wore it everywhere for weeks afterwards.
The unqualified regret you wish you could amend...Whatever you do shapes who you are, so you shouldn’t have regrets. I have made mistakes, but nothing that keeps me awake at night. Only by experiencing the bad stuff can you appreciate the good things.
The way you would spend your fantasy 24 hours, with no travel restrictions...I wouldn’t need to do anything grand. Wake up at home in Preston, then take my wife, Rachael, and the kids [Holly, eight, Corey, five, and Rocky, three] to Blackpool pleasure beach. That’s where I went as a kid and my lot love it there. We’d go on the rides, play on the beach, then have lunch at a chippy called The Cottage. Maybe in the afternoon, I could take Rachael to see the giraffes at Okavango Delta in Botswana. In the evening, I’d have a few pints at the Friargate Social Club in Preston with the wife and my closest mates, then go for a curry.
The temptation you wish you could resist...Curries. I normally have a mixed grill with a very spicy sauce and naan bread. It’s all very fattening, but tastes so good.
The book that holds an everlasting resonance...On Green Dolphin Street by Sebastian Faulks. The England team physio convinced me to read it when we were touring New Zealand once. I wasn’t enjoying it, but he insisted I stick with it. He kept saying that it gets better, but it were (sic) dreadful right ’til the end. That’s three days of my life I’ll never get back.
The priority activity if you were the Invisible Man for a day...I’d watch my kids in the classroom to see how they behave in a different environment.
The pet-hate that makes your hackles rise...General rudeness, especially on the road when people don’t wave Thank You when you let them out, or stop to let them cross.
The film you can watch time and time again...I have watched Star Wars about 50 times. It got to the point when my older brother Chris and I would watch it and pre-empt the dialogue all the way through.
The person who has influenced you most...My dad, Colin. He worked really hard at British Aerospace to provide for the family and sacrificed a big chunk of his life to help me with my cricket. We didn’t have much money, but he made sure I had all the kit and took me all over the country to play from when I was really young.
The figure from history for whom you’d most like to buy a pie and a pint...Elvis. My first job was behind the record counter at Woolworths when I was 16, which was when the Elvis Essential Collection came out. I really got into the music. He was pretty cool, but I ‘d like to know what he was really like, hang out with him and be his mate.
The piece of wisdom you would pass on to a child...Everyone is good at something and once you find it, what you can achieve is limitless. I doubt they’ll be making bumper stickers out of that bit of wisdom, but it’s what I believe. I let my kids have a go at everything.
The unlikely interest that engages your curiosity...Chess. I started playing when I was eight and won the Preston Championship when I was 10. I was a bit of a maverick and didn’t plan many moves ahead. I just moved where I fancied and it threw people off their game. It was a bit like my cricket – very random!
The treasured item you lost and wish you could have again...All the Star Wars figures and space ships my brother and I collected. We had the lot and some of them were very rare, but our mum got rid of them when I was about 15. I was gutted when I discovered they were gone.
The unending quest that drives you on...Being a good father is what matters most. All I want is for my kids to grow up to be happy and respectful people.
The poem that touches your soul...Err, to be honest, me and poetry don’t really happen. I just don’t get it, but each to their own.
The misapprehension about yourself you wish you could erase...People expect me to be a larger than life party boy, full of confidence and aggression. Much of that was my persona for cricket because that’s what I had to become to be a sportsman. The bigger side of me is quite shy and I’m someone who is comfortable sat at home being quiet.
The event that altered the course of your life and character...Meeting Rachel in 2002 in a hospitality box at Edgbaston cricket ground during a Test match. At the time, I was very lackadaisical and drifting in my career. I was nothing special, but Rachel has real drive and she helped me focus, which had a profound effect on my life.
The crime you would commit knowing you could get away with it...I got away with nicking lots of the pick ‘n’ mix at Woolworths, but these days I’d be happy speeding without getting a ticket.
The song that means most to you...Rocket Man by Elton John, which became the anthem in the England dressing room during the Ashes winning series in 2005. I started playing it one day and it just took hold. It reminds me of great times. I phoned up Elton and asked him if he would play at my testimonial dinner in Battersea Park in 2006 and I was amazed when he said Yes. He actually got me up on stage to sing Rocket Man with him!
The happiest moment you will cherish forever...The highlight of my career was being captain in 2006 when England won its first Test match in Mumbai for 21 years. On the day we won, I flew home to see my three-week-old son, Corey, for the first time.
The saddest time that shook your world...The death of my good mate Ben Hollioake in a car accident in Australia in 2002 when he was only 24. He had everything – annoyingly handsome, cool, a very talented cricketer. I was playing in a Test match in New Zealand when I was told and was out third ball because my eyes were full of tears.
The unfulfilled ambition that continues to haunt you...I wish I had played my last few years at Lancashire and given something back to the county, but my knees gave way and I had to retire at 31.
The philosophy that underpins your life...Life’s a game. It’s how you play it that matters. I enjoy playing it to the full.
The order of service at your funeral...It’s a morbid thought because I hope to live to a ripe old age, but when it happens, I’d want a wake somewhere half decent in Preston with an open mic for people to say what they like about me – good or bad. Let’s get some Elvis on – Suspicious Minds, The Wonder of You and Burning Love. I used to want to have my ashes scattered at Old Trafford but us players always hate diving into that stuff, so I won’t put the lads through it!
The way you want to be remembered...As a good dad and husband and a decent bloke.
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