Andrew Symonds’ childhood best mate pays tribute to the former cricketer – a ‘simple human who ‘didn’t give a f*** – but felt burnt by Cricket Australia after shameful ‘Monkeygate’ scandal
- Steve Fitzsimmons grew up with the late Aussie cricketer on the Gold Coast
- Fitzsimmons, 45, and Andrew Symonds attended same high school All Saints
- According to the former soccer player, Symonds destined to be a star athlete
- ‘Fitzy’ revealed his good mate felt let down by ACB after Monkeygate scandal
A close friend of Andrew Symonds has revealed how the former cricketer was a ‘simple human who didn’t give a f***- but the talented all-rounder did feel aggrieved after the poor handling of the ‘Monkeygate’ scandal by the Australia Cricket Board.
Steve Fitzsimmons, who himself carved out an impressive sporting career with the likes of Parramatta Power, Marconi and Gold Coast United in the old National Soccer League (NSL) and then the A-League, grew up with ‘Roy’ on the Glitter Strip.
The pair went to high school together at All Saints, and it didn’t take long for Symonds – who died when his car veered off the road last month outside of Townsville – to become close mates.
Symonds’ elite athletic ability was obvious, and Fitzsimmons recalled fondly how his friend was cut from a different cloth.
‘We were 13, in art class, he already had a deal with (cricket brand) Duncan Fearnley and he was saying to me ‘Fitzy, how does this signature look?,’ Fitzsimmons told Fox Sports.
‘He was just a cut above everyone else, everyone knew he was just on the path to greatness.’
Former NSL star soccer player Steve Fitzsimmons with good mate Andrew Symonds as kids living on the Gold Coast (pictured above)
Even as adults, their friendship formed in high school at All Saints remained as strong as ever
Even when Symonds was an established star on the international scene, he was plagued by self doubt.
On a night out in Sydney back in 2002, Symonds confided to his mate since childhood he felt he was lucky to be in the Aussie squad ahead of the World Cup the following year.
Captain Ricky Ponting knew Symonds could be a match-winner, and insisted he be in the team.
That gamble paid off handsomely, with Symonds the star of the tournament in 2003 staged in South Africa, Kenya and Zimbabwe.
Symonds finished with the staggering batting average of 163, with 326 runs from five trips to the crease.
Just for good measure, he was also a key figure when Australia snared the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies.
Fitzsimmons has revealed the talented all-rounder did feel aggrieved after the poor handling of the ‘Monkeygate’ scandal by the Australia Cricket Board in 2007 and 2008 (pictured, Fitzsimmons wearing Symonds’ baggy green)
Symonds died in May when his car veered off the road outside of Townsville – the news left cricket fans reeling
The same year, Symonds’ life descended into chaos, when Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh allegedly labelled him a ‘monkey’ in Mumbai.
Months later during a tense test match in Sydney, an irate Symonds accused Singh of the same racist slur, sparking ill-feeling between the two nations.
When India threatened to boycott the series and return home, the ACB relented, and Symonds felt let down.
Many felt he never recovered, and Fitzsimmons doesn’t disagree.
Symonds was adamant the ACB – now Cricket Australia – didn’t have his back and he soon resented the sport, later retiring in 2012
‘He was just a simple human, he didn’t give a f**k,’ Fitzsimmons said.
‘He was just such a humble man, and in hindsight he had achieved so much in the game, but he just didn’t care. ‘He was just a different beast.’
Symonds later shifted his focus into commentary, and his larrikin nature behind the microphone made him a fan favourite before his shock death this year – not long after close friend Shane Warne and wicketkeeper Rod Marsh also died.