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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 December 2005, 22:04 GMT
Flintoff wins top BBC Sport award
Andrew Flintoff
Andrew Flintoff has become the first cricketer for 24 years to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

Flintoff played a key role in England's spectacular Ashes summer, as they beat Australia in a Test series for the first time since 1987.

He won the public vote ahead of sailor Ellen MacArthur, with Liverpool footballer Steven Gerrard in third.

Flintoff received the award from 1981 winner Ian Botham in Pakistan, where the England team are on tour.

He topped a public poll after viewers were invited to vote from a shortlist of six contenders, which also included his captain Michael Vaughan, rising tennis star Andrew Murray and boxer Ricky Hatton.

The Lancashire player expressed his delight after being presented with the coveted trophy.

"To receive it from Ian, my boyhood hero, makes it all the more sweet," he said.

"Being involved in the Ashes was something special, a great thing. It was a real team effort. As for Vaughany, leading us was outstanding.

Since the Ashes everybody knows who I am and it's becoming increasingly difficult to find places to escape it
Andrew Flintoff
"Thank you to everyone who voted for me."

His colleagues were recognised as injured skipper Michael Vaughan picked up the Team of the Year award.

Vaughan was full of praise for his team-mate, comparing him to cricketing legend Ian Botham.

"I think everyone realised Flintoff was going to win this award and it's fully deserved," said Vaughan.

"He's had an incredible year and he came close to winning it last year. He really has performed to an amazing level and was a real key part of why we won the Ashes this summer.

"I think you've got to realise that Ian Botham was outstanding in his era and Flintoff's becoming outstanding this era and that's all that matters. They're both brilliant cricketers."

Flintoff was the side's leading Ashes wicket-taker, with 24 victims, and one of just three batsman on either side to top 400 runs.

ALL THE AWARDS
Sports Personality:
Andrew Flintoff
Team: England cricket
Coach: Jose Mourinho
Lifetime achievement: Pele
Overseas: Shane Warne
Young Personality: Harry Aikines-Aryeetey
Helen Rollason Award:
Geoff Thomas
Unsung Hero: Trevor Collins
The all-rounder scored a vital 73 and took late wickets in a thrilling two-run win at Edgbaston to bring the Ashes series level at 1-1 after England had lost the opening match.

It prompted comparisons with Botham, who playing a similarly inspirational role against Australia in 1981.

Flintoff scored a century at Trent Bridge, where England secured a three-wicket win to ensure they could not lose the series.

And he took five wickets at The Oval to help ensure the draw that sealed England's Ashes victory.

But he admitted the events of the summer had changed his life both on and off the field.

"It has been unbelievable since we won the Ashes," Flintoff said. "Simple things have changed. Everybody knows who you are, and it's becoming increasingly difficult to find places to escape it.

"But there is no danger of my not concentrating on cricket. I'm comfortable on the pitch, and that will never change. I have to remember what I do for a living."

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