Freddie Flintoff speaks of ‘hardest times of your life’ in emotional speech

Freddie Flintoff has spoken on camera for the first time since his “horrific” Top Gear accident.

The former cricketer and TV star delivered an emotional speech ahead of England’s ODI clash with Ireland last month, and the footage has now been released by the ECB.

Handing over the cap to cricketer Tom Hartley during a brief ceremony, the 45-year-old cited the support his cricketing “family” had given him in recent months.

“They'll share the good times with you, the successes,” said Flintoff. “But as I found over the past few months, they'll be there during the hardest times of your life. They will stand next to you.

“When you get this cap, it changes your life. It's one of those things.”

Addressing members of the England team, Flintoff told Hartley to “play with passion, play with pride, play with belief”.

His speech was filmed nine months after the star was airlifted to hospital when he suffered an accident while filming the BBC motoring series.

At the time, his son Corey, 16, said that his dad was “OK”, adding: “I’m not too sure what happened, but he is lucky to be alive.”

Flintoff, whose real name is Andrew, was reportedly filming a car review at Dunsfold Park Aerodrome, home of the Top Gear test track, when the incident happened.

According to reports, Flintoff’s open-topped three-wheel Morgan Super 3 car flipped and slid along the track when he was driving at high speed.

He and a crew member in the passenger seat were wearing helmets, but Flintoff suffered facial injuries and several broken ribs.

While Flintoff was photographed in public in April 2023, his injuries were hidden by sunglasses.

On 8 September, the star’s facial injuries were seen when he appeared at Cardiff’s Sophia Gardens for the England cricket team’s opening one-day international against New Zealand.

Freddie Flintoff speaking on camera last month (ECB)
Freddie Flintoff speaking on camera last month (ECB)

Many supported Flintoff, with Piers Morgan writing: “Brilliant to see ⁦Freddie @flintoff11 ⁩ back with the England team today, after that horrendous Top Gear car smash.”

One fan wrote: “Was great to see him in the out field giving the warm ups. I hope he realises how loved he is… and that also there’s no pressure for any other public engagement until he is ready,” with another adding: “Wonderful to see him after so long. I have genuinely worried about him. He looks well, I hope he is.”

Many agreed it was “good to see him out”, with one fan expressing the hope that “his confidence will grow” as time goes on.

“May his long road of recovery continue, a lot of progress already made,” another of Flintoff’s fans concurred.

The airfield where Flintoff had his accident was the same one where former Top Gear star Richard Hammond previously crashed in 2006.

Freddie Flintoff pictured on 8 September (Getty Images)
Freddie Flintoff pictured on 8 September (Getty Images)

Hammond suffered paranoia, memory loss, and depression as a result of brain damage caused by the accident.

In March, the BBC announced that they had decided not to resume filming Top Gear after the crash.

In a statement given at the time, the corporation said: “Under the circumstances, we feel it would be inappropriate to resume making series 34.

“We have sincerely apologised to Freddie and will continue to support him with his recovery. We understand this [halting the show] will be disappointing for fans, but it is the right thing to do, and we’ll make a judgement about how best to continue later this year.”

The broadcaster added that it would be conducting a health and safety review of the show.

Flintoff – who retired from professional cricket in 2009 – presented Top Gear for three years before the crash. He joined the show alongside Paddy McGuinness and Chris Harris.