Page last updated at 11:56 GMT, Monday, 5 October 2009 12:56 UK

Flintoff in Afghan attack scare

Andrew Flintoff and Gary Lineker meet troops
Flintoff said he had "total admiration" for the service personnel whom he met

Cricket star Andrew Flintoff was forced to dive for cover by a rocket attack warning on a visit to Afghanistan.

He told the Daily Mirror he first thought it was "a wind-up" when the alarm sounded in a forces dining room, but then taking cover had been "scary".

Ex-footballer Gary Lineker and Flintoff presented a Mirror Pride of Britain award to UK medics in Afghanistan.

Flintoff said the trip was a "humbling experience", meeting "some of the most impressive people I've met in my life".

The rocket fire warning sounded in a dining room at Kandahar air base, with the all-clear given 30 seconds later.

"I thought it was a wind-up but then I saw everyone dive to the floor. It was scary," Flintoff told the newspaper.

Lineker said: "Hearing that alarm really brought home what's going on. You take your hat off to these guys here."

These people are saving lives on daily basis
Andrew Flintoff

The sporting stars presented the Mirror award to 24-year-old army medic Cpl Holly Percival, collecting it on behalf of hospital staff at the UK forces' main base at Camp Bastion, southern Helmand province.

"I met some of the most impressive people I've met in my life over there, ranging from 18-year-old soldiers and combat medics to the older officers," Flintoff told BBC News.

"The combat medics who are out in the field are the first port of call when somebody gets injured in the heat of battle - these people are saving lives on daily basis."

He added: "I play cricket - that's all I do.

"These people are going out, they're risking their lives, putting themselves in some hairy situations and saving the lives of other people.

"To call someone who plays cricket a hero, or football or whatever they do, I think is completely wrong - the heroes are the people I met out there."

There are about 9,000 UK services personnel in Afghanistan.

On Thursday, the number killed in the country since 2001 rose to 219 following the death of 24-year-old RAF serviceman Marcin Wojtak in Helmand province.



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