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HE was the no-nonsense bowler with an arm like lightning on the field and an equally explosive personal life off it.
Today, Australian cricketer Shane Warne died from a suspected heart attack on the tropical island Koh Samui, Thailand, at the age of 52.
Shane Warne has tragically died at the age of 52Credit: Getty
Fox Sports, who he commentated for, reported that he was “found unresponsive in his villa” and “despite the best efforts of medical staff, he could not be revived”.
Tributes have poured in to mark the legend’s passing including from Gary Lineker, who said he couldn’t “quite believe it”.
The Match Of The Day star added: “Terribly saddened and shocked to hear the news that Shane Warne has died. The greatest spin bowler of all time.”
Sun columnist Piers Morgan tweeted: “He was a genius cricketer, a supreme entertainer, a fantastic bloke and a great loyal friend for many years.”
Widely considered one of the greatest cricketers of all time, Shane’s iconic ‘Ball of the Century’ at Old Trafford in 1993 is to this day the sport’s most-watched clip in history.
Nonetheless, with a history of partying, boozing and womanising – which culminated in an infamous romance with actress Liz Hurley and the end of his 10-year-marriage – the legendary sportsman became just as famous for his antics away from the field.
Here we remember his colourful and controversial life.
🔵 Follow our Shane Warne blog for live updates on his death
Aussie prodigy with arm like lightning
Shane Warne is carried around the field with the official Ashes Trophy by Michael Clarke and Andrew Symonds in 2007Credit: PA
Shane having just delivered the ‘Ball of the Century’ in 1993Credit: Getty
His bowling heroics struck fear into opponents
Shane’s talent was recognised early at school, in Victoria, Melbourne, when he was offered a sports scholarship to attend Mentone Grammar.
Around the age of 14, he represented the University of Melbourne Cricket Club where his skills for leg-spin and off-spin bowling set him apart.
It led on to a career playing for his national squad, which helped him to become known as one of the greatest bowlers in cricketing history.
Shane’s Test debut came in 1993 against India and was deemed rather underwhelming when he took just one wicket and conceded 150 runs.
Whether it was down to bad luck or nerves we’ll never know – it was only his seventh first-class game – and soon after he more than made up for it.
Against England, he delivered a legendary bowl, later known as the ‘Ball of the Century’, against Mike Gatting in the Ashes that same year.
He looked as though someone had just nicked his lunch
Graham Gooch, ex-England captain
In a purely magical moment, he caught the batsman off-guard with a drift and spin that led to gasps in the stadium and mockery.
“He looked as though someone had just nicked his lunch,” former England captain Graham Gooch commented on Mike’s reaction.
In 1999, Shane was the joint-leading wicket-taker for Australia when they won the World Cup.
Throughout his career, the cricketer was known for his animated responses, including triumphantly celebrating on the pitch and off.
In one amusing moment from 1997, Shane held a stump above his head and danced around the dressing room balcony.
Many called the performance “cringeworthy” but it was one of many instances that proved his love for the sport.
Shane celebrates by dancing with a cricket stumpCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Two years later, he ensured he was the only member of the Australian team to wear a tracksuit top while they lifted the 1999 World Cup.
Performance was everything to Shane, who took 708 test wickets and scored more than 3,000 test runs during a stellar international career that spanned 15 years until 2007.
His wickets record has only been surpassed by Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan.
Shane broke a number of Ashes records including most wickets in competition history with 195, which was 38 more than second-place Glenn McGrath.
In 2005, he topped the charts with 96 test wickets, including 40 in the Ashes, which remains the most for a player in a single calendar year.
Turbulent romances & marriage breakdown
A romance with Hollywood star Liz Hurley ended in heartbreakCredit: Getty – Contributor
Shane with ex-wife SimoneCredit: Getty
Shane was grabbing headlines around the world, not only for his performances but his antics on and off the field.
He was renowned for his romances, including with legendary model and actress Liz Hurley.
In 2005, his wife of 10 years model Simone Callahan – who he had three kids with – left him amid reports of cheating.
It followed previous claims he sent explicit texts to a British nurse in 2000 and allegedly pursued student Laura Sayers and mum-of-three Kerrie Collimore.
After Simone called time on her marriage to Shane, he claimed it was his “lowest” point and he turned to booze.
“I would go back and raid the minibar. I was on my own on the hotel room floor, crying ‘you d***head,’” he recalled.
In 2010, Shane went public with Liz Hurley who he was pictured snogging outside a London hotel.
He claimed it was hard to have a normal relationship because they were followed by “30 to 40 people, photographers, news crews, everywhere we went”.
I miss the love we had. My years with Elizabeth were the happiest of my life
They were later pictured smooching at charity cricket matches and other sporting events – and during interviews, Shane gushed with love.
By 2011, they were engaged after she said yes to a romantic proposal at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship golf tournament.
However, it wasn’t to be as they split in 2013 and while both parties were tightlipped over their break-up, the sportsman said the spark had “fizzled out”.
On his show A Week With Warnie, he described being “quite sad it’s over” and that he cared deeply about her.
“I didn’t introduce her to my children until it was real and I believed it had a future – it wasn’t just a bit of fun,” Shane added.
Reflecting on their romance, he claimed to have been “more in love… than I’d realised I could be”.
“I miss the love we had. My years with Elizabeth were the happiest of my life,” he told The Mirror.
In 2014, after his split from Hurley, he was pictured kissing DJ and model Emily Scott, but broke up the same year due to being in “different places”.
Shane was also reported to be dating model Emily Sears.
He then went on two dates with Kim McGrath, who he met on Tinder and later fumed at for spilling bedroom secrets.
Shane was set up on a date with his crush Carmen Electra by Kyle and Jackie O in 2016 – it’s not clear if they ever met.
10 pints and chicken & chips each night
The ‘bad boy of cricket’ was one of the greatest to grace the sportCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
Shane earned an army of fans for his cheeky antics – including when he was sent home from a cricket academy for dropping his trousers in 1990 and branded “a liability”.
“I was the renegade,” he said. “I mooned at some people on the balcony in Darwin.”
The cricketer also battled yo-yoing weight and was his largest in 1991, when he gorged on “10 pints and chicken and chips” every night.
Shane managed to turn it around and was proud of the fact that he could still eat pizzas, pies and “spaghetti hoops for breakfast” but “in moderation”.
This guy doesn’t give a f*** but is somebody who gives a f*** more than anyone else
Chris Martin, of Coldplay
Over his lifetime, he developed an unhealthy smoking habit of up to 50 cigarettes a day.
At one point he was paid £200,000 by Nicorette, an aid to quit smoking, but was later snapped puffing a cigarette.
In 2003, he was banned from cricket taking a banned substance, which he claimed was a diet pill.
He explained: “I’m so anti-drugs. I never took drugs.”
Four days before Shane’s death, he shared a tweet revealing that he had just started a 10 day “Operation shred” to get back into shape.
He shared a photo of himself with a chisseled torso and wrote: “The goal by July is to get back to this shape from a few years ago! Let’s go.”
Reflecting on his health last year, he said: “I liked loud music, I smoked, I drank, and I bowled a bit of leg spin. I don’t have any regrets.”
Kids became ‘number one priority’
Shane and former fiancee Liz Hurley with his children Summer, Jackson, Brooke and Hurley’s son DamienCredit: AFP
Away from his love life, the star felt he wasn’t the best father to the kids he had with Simone – Brooke, 24, Summer, 20, and Jackson, 22 – because he was always away with work.
But after splitting with his wife, he became far more hands on while they enjoyed joint custody.
“I always made their lunches, walked them to school, took them to sport, etc,” he told the Herald Sun last year.
Shane admitted it was “never easy” being a single parent but he grew up and started to make his kids his “number one priority at all times”.
In January, a source told Women’s Day that he had hopes of becoming a grandparent in the future too.
“He can now focus on family first,” they said. “He’s got a real soft side and is a big teddy bear, so as a doting grandad he’ll get the chance to get even closer to his own amazing kids, who are all busy making their place in the world.”
‘Cricket is a simple game’
Despite the difficulties that dogged Shane’s career, it seemed he never let it impact his performance.
This came even during the 2005 Ashes when England won and the fans brutally sang “Where’s your missus gone?” for hours.
He said: “The only way I got over everything was because I was tough upstairs. I blocked everything out.”
Shane’s talent was unquestionable and while his personal life was rocky at times, the cricketer was always refreshingly honest.
He said: “I don’t pretend to be the perfect person, I’ve got loads of faults.”
It’s hard to quantify the blood, sweat and tears Shane poured into the game, but to him it never seemed that tricky.
He said: “To me, cricket is a simple game. Keep it simple and just go out and play.”