Johannesburg - Cricketer Makhaya Ntini was a true South African legend, Proteas left-arm swing bowler Lonwabo Tsotsobe said on Thursday.
"He is not only a hero to children but he was definitely a hero to everyone that played with him," Tsotsobe paid him tribute just days after the fast bowler announced his retirement from the international arena.
"I learnt a lot from him when starting out with the Warriors and he was someone that I looked up to with the utmost respect," he said, adding that Ntini's love and energy for the game were second to none.
"I feel honoured to have had the opportunity to play with him..."
In his career, Ntini finished with 390 Test wickets - the 11th highest of all time, and second highest by a South African.
The 33-year-old set the South African record for the best bowling figures in Test cricket of 13 for 132 versus the West Indies in Trinidad in 2005.
He holds the records for the best bowling figures in one-day international cricket of six for 23 against Australia at Newlands in 2006, and for the most 10-wicket hauls in Tests, at four -- a mark he shares with Dale Steyn.
Ntini is also the only South African bowler to have taken 10 wickets in a Test match at Lord's, in London.
His last appearance in the green and gold will be in the Standard Bank Pro20 match against India at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, in Durban, on January 9.
Left-handed batsman JP Duminy, who shared a change room with Ntini for almost three years, said he would miss his loud banter.
"It is a pleasure to have played with such a legend of the game. He was always the one to look out for the next person and always took the extra time to find out if your personal career is going well. He had plenty of time for his teammates.
"The change room is unfortunately quieter without him these days. Well done on all of his milestones," he said.
Death-ball specialist Rusty Theron said he had learnt from the high standards Ntini set in world cricket.
"For me, Makhaya has been the best example of an international cricketer from the beginning to the end of his career. Ever since I have known him, he has never had a change in attitude, he has always been 100 percent dedicated, and was a leading example for anyone coming into the Warriors or the South African team.
"His desire and passion set the standards for me coming into the game," he said.