Andrew Flintoff might be a household name now - and a housewives' favourite judging by the clamour for Freddie 2006 calendars - but he has only fulfilled his potential on the cricket field in the last couple of years.
He had been hailed the "next Ian Botham" ever since he was picked for England at the age of 20 in 1998.
Flintoff made his debut for Lancashire in 1995, aged 17
Weight and injury problems meant fans never saw Flintoff at his devastating best, but after sorting himself out, a leaner and meaner all-rounder emerged.
His heroics in the 2005 Ashes meant he could rightfully enjoy his place as one of the sport's greatest talents - and led to him being named BBC Sports Personality of the Year on Sunday.
You could say Flintoff had cricket in his blood.
When he was a baby his mother Susan used to wheel him in his pram around the boundary ropes where his father Colin was playing for Dutton Forshaw's in Preston.
His older brother Chris was a decent young cricketer too and Andrew mucked about with him and learned the game from his dad.
Ironically, cricket was not really played at his schools, Greenlands County Primary and Ribbleton Hall High in Preston.
He played his first competitive match at the age of eight for Dutton Forshaw's junior side.
At nine, he received a Lancashire under-11s cap and he was so proud of it he did not take it off for a week.
Aged 8: Plays first game of cricket for Dutton Forshaw's Juniors, Preston
Aged 9: Receives Lancashire under-11s county cap
Aged 13: Plays for first adult team, St Annes Cricket Club 4th XI
Aged 14: Plays for St Annes CC first XI
Aged 17: Makes Lancashire debut
Aged 20: Makes England Test debut v South Africa at Trent Bridge
Aged 21: Makes England one-day debut v Pakistan in Sharjah
Aged 27: Voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2005
He also began playing for St Annes, near Blackpool, and made his debut for the 4th XI when he was 13.
They were playing Preesall, a Lancashire village, and had bowled them out for 46.
The then St Annes captain, Tim Rawstron, asked Flintoff if he would like to open the batting.
He said yes and proceeded to smash a burly Scottish bowler around the ground, scoring 32 not out including four fours and one six.
At the age of 14 he became the youngest player to be selected for St Annes' first XI in the Northern League.
His father Colin recalled: "It was the last game of the season and St Annes were playing Chorley and the captain Robin Bracewell thought it was a good time to introduce some youngsters.
"Andrew opened the batting and scored 20-odd and impressed those who were there.
"At the time people were saying he was special and that he'd go far. You hope that would be the case but I never believed it. But look at him now!"
Flintoff was a growing lad and when he was 16 he suffered back problems which meant he could not bowl for many months.
He could still bat though and it was during this time he really honed his technique and skill.
Flintoff made his Lancashire debut in 1995 at the age of 17 and has represented England at every level, captaining the under-19s team
He made his Test debut aged 20 against South Africa at Trent Bridge in 1998, recording modest figures of 1-68 off 23 overs and scoring 17.
Flintoff makes the move from playing for St Annes to playing for Lancashire in 1995
A year later he made his one-day international debut against Pakistan and scored 50, including two fours and four sixes.
At this time he was already beginning to be known as Freddie, as in Flintstone because of the similarities in the surname, but he was also resembling the portly caveman too.
His weight ballooned and he received a stern talking to from his former Lancashire and England colleague and now his agent Neil Fairbrother who told him to get himself fit or he would waste his talent.
Flintoff has not looked back since and his star has certainly been rising.
And in this summer's Ashes, Flintoff came to the fore and was an England hero with both bat and ball.
He scored 402 runs at an average of 40.20 against Australia and took 24 wickets at 27.29.
And his legendary post-Ashes celebrations only endeared him more in the nation's eyes.
His father, who watched his son at every Ashes match, said: "I still find it hard to believe that it was our lad out there, giving it to the Australians. Fans were singing his name and chanting. It got me very emotional."