Freddie Flintoff made ‘hidden Ashes visit’ before brave return from horror crash

England cricket legend Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff attended a couple of Ashes matches over the summer – on the down low.

The 45-year-old suffered a near-fatal car crash while filming for Top Gear last December at Dunsfold Park Aerodrome in Surrey, and was airlifted to hospital after breaking a rib and suffering several facial injuries.

He made an emotional return to public life this week after resuming coaching work with the England cricket team, sporting some prominent cuts around his nose and mouth.

But according to Piers Morgan, Flintoff made his unofficial return a couple of months ago after turning up to see the squad in action against Australia, though out of public view.

READ MORE: Inside Freddie Flintoff's near-fatal Top Gear crash – from agonising wait to staff's PTSD

"I'd heard from various people that through the Ashes series that he was turning up as a guest of Rob Key, who runs England cricket now and is one of his great mates," Morgan said on talkSPORT. "But they were very incognito and watching it in back offices on TV. A very small number of people went to see him.

"I was encouraged, but he's still got a lot of scarring on his face and signs of injury nine months after the crash. I know he's had a lot of mental health issues because of it, as you would expect because it was a horrendous crash that nearly killed him."

Morgan, who considers himself a close friend of Flintoff's, said he thinks the former all-rounder is in a "better place" now following what has been one of the most challenging periods of his life.

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"Freddie is gingerly putting himself back into the game and it's brilliant to see him laughing and joking and interacting with the public again. I think he needs that," he added.

"I've known him for a long time. He's a good friend of mine and we were really worried about him because the reports of how bad the crash was were that it was real life and death and he was lucky to survive.

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"I'm so chuffed for him and actually got a message from him yesterday. He's not really been interacting with anybody as he's been trying to get himself back on track. Now he's in a better place and I'm really pleased about that."

Flintoff, who starred in England's iconic Ashes victory over Australia in 2005, began presenting Top Gear in 2018 alongside Paddy McGuinness and Chris Harris. He's had several crashes while filming for the programme, though, including on a headfirst trike going 124mph, but his accident in December is the only one that left him hospitalised.

The horror crash happened when his three-wheeled open-top car, which did not have air bags, flipped while filming during filming on December 13. It's understood he then had to wait a around 45 minutes for an air ambulance to arrive – with the BBC later giving him an apology.

He has since quit the show and several members of staff who witnessed the accident are reported to have signed off sick indefinitely as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder relating to the incident.

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