Freddie, Strauss pleaded with me to stay captain: KP

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Former England skipper Kevin Pietersen has rejected reports that the team did not back him during his stand-off with sacked coach Peter Moores.

Updated: January 11, 2009 19:02 IST
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Former England skipper Kevin Pietersen has rejected reports that the team did not back him during his stand-off with sacked coach Peter Moores, insisting that new captain Andrew Strauss and top players like Andrew Flintoff had pleaded with him to stay.

"My relationship with Freddie was great and towards the end I sat down with him and I said 'Mate, this is what is going on'. We had a good chat and Freddie's parting words were, 'You cannot leave as England captain'," Pietersen revealed in an interview with 'The News of the World'.

Pietersen said he also confided in his replacement Andrew Strauss and Paul Collingwood.

"I confided in them and in another two senior England players (Andrew Strauss and Paul Collingwood). And they all 100 per cent, I promise you categorically said to me: 'Do not leave, Please, as England captain.'

"That's not to say they wanted Peter Moores sacked. All I can say is that I know who I have spoken to and I won't lie. What I have told you now is true. I have not let anything out to the media and I won't lie about stuff. This is the God's honest truth," he said.

Pietersen said Steve Harmison was among the players closest to him in the team and the pacer wanted him to remain captain even after being told about the rift with Moores.

"I had a long chat with Harmy about what we were going to do going forward and how he would be seen as the best bowler in the world come the end of the Ashes. 'That is your goal,' I told him, 'because I think you are a superstar'," he said.

"And then we were talking about other stuff and he said to me: 'Mate, I love you to bits and the last thing I want you to do is quit as captain'," he added.

The chaotic circumstances in which Strauss has taken over notwithstanding, Pietersen said the new captain will get his complete backing.

"I spoke to Straussy as I was walking on to the plane at Johannesburg and we had a great conversation about how if he needs me for anything I will be there for him. He knows that I'll be there for him the same as I was the last time he was captain."

"I spoke to him again on Thursday and everything is perfect. I texted him and we are going to go and hit balls together next week."

Rubbishing criticism of his attitude, Pietersen said he never had problems with any of his teammates and it would not change even after the current crisis.

"I've got zero problem with walking back into that dressing- room. I can look anybody in the eye. I'm not a problem in the dressing- room. I can work with anybody in that team. I will be 100 per cent supportive of whatever goes on," he said.

"I am a man of principle that if I feel something is right then I will do it and am man enough to accept when I have made a mistake. If I had made a mistake I would apologise.

"I know the media will try and divide things but I've got my personal relationship with people," he added.

Pietersen said he and his family were dismayed at him being seen as the "wrong man" in the entire episode.

"I'm very, very upset because I have seen what people have said and those headlines saying you are the most hated man in world cricket. Man, that kills," he said.

"It has affected my family and close friends and that's the thing that kills me," he added.

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