London: Former England captain Andrew Flintoff retired from all forms of cricket with immediate effect on Thursday, admitting defeat after a long battle against a serious knee injury.
The 32-year-old Lancashire all-rounder, who played 79 tests for England, made his decision to quit the sport after speaking to medical advisers on Wednesday.
"Having been told that my body would no longer stand up to the rigors of cricket, I had no alternative but to retire," Flintoff said in a statement.
His last match was a Test against Australia at The Oval in August 2009, when England won to regain the Ashes.
Immediately after that match, Flintoff, who was prone to injuries owing to his heavy frame, underwent micro-fracture surgery on his right knee and hoped to return for the start of this season. He had a second operation after suffering a setback in his recovery earlier this year.
"I was told that the problems I have been trying to overcome in rehab for the last year following the latest in a series of operations would not recover sufficiently to allow a comeback," Flintoff said.
Universally known as 'Freddie', Flintoff became a national icon by playing a leading role in England winning back the Ashes in 2005 under the captaincy of Michael Vaughan. He scored 402 runs and took 24 wickets in the five-match series.
Overall, he had 226 wickets and hit 3,845 runs in an 11-year Test career. He notched five centuries, his highest being 167 versus West Indies at Edgbaston in 2004.
"I will now be taking a break before deciding which future direction to take," added Flintoff, who has been working in television over the past year.
Flintoff announced in July last year that he would be retiring from Test cricket at the end of the 2009 Ashes series but would be available for England's limited-overs matches despite rejecting an incremental England and Wales Cricket Board contract. However, injury meant he did not play again for England or his county.
He was named England captain in February 2006 and led the team for the defence of the Ashes at the end of that year. Australia won the series 5-0 Down Under.
Vaughan returned as captain in 2007 but Flintoff was stripped of the vice-captaincy and suspended after a reported late-night incident during which he fell off a pedalo after a drinking session.
Injury limited his appearances for England and Lancashire over the past three years, although he managed to play through pain to help England win the Ashes back in 2009.