The Australian leg spin bowler could turn a ball on a six pence and was the second highest wicket taker ever, often skittling the best players in the world with a flick of the wrist.
But the flamboyant cricketer’s illustrious career was matched by his lust for life off it – and his role in sex scandals, drug taking, bouts of plastic surgery and gambling soon began to dominate headlines.
Just two years ago allegations emerged the Aussie legend was involved in a noisy four-way sex party with his lover and two escorts at his home in north west London.
Meanwhile his career was nearly ruined during the 2003 World Cup when he tested positive for diuretics – which can be used to mask other substances – while the star claimed his mother gave it to him for weight loss.
And back in 1998 it emerged that three years earlier the Australian Cricket Board had fined him and Mark Waugh for accepting money from a bookmaker allegedly for information about pitch and weather conditions.
Off the pitch the cricketer dated a raft of stunning women during and after his career, including the actress Liz Hurley – who he was engaged to – and reportedly the glamour model Emily Sears.
Triple M Sydney radio host Lawrence Mooney, a friend of Warne, said last year: ‘His life is Tinder, beers, darts, gambling and cricket. Those five things, that’s it.’
In his own words, the star said: ‘I liked loud music, I smoked, I drank, and I bowled a bit of leg spin. I don’t have any regrets.’
Despite the controversies, the ‘spin king’ remained a world-renown and well loved member of the cricketing community, most recently coaching London Spirit in The Hundred and commentating on the Ashes.
Shane Warne, who passed away in Thailand today aged 52 of a suspected heart attack, was one of the greatest and most iconic cricketers of all time
Off the pitch the cricketer dated a raft of stunning women during and after his career, including the actress Liz Hurley (pictured) – who he was engaged to – and reportedly the glamour model Emily Sears
Left: The Australian cricket champion poses backstage with the Moulin Rouge Australian dancers at Le Moulin Rouge on June 27, 2014 in Paris. Right: Warne walks to to the green during day one of the New Zealand Open in 2015
The Australian team celebrate with a few beers in the dressing room after winning the 4th Test match between England and Australia at Headingley, Leeds, in 1997. Warne is pictured centre
Australian cricketing legend Shane Warne is pictured celebrating after a match with a can of beer and the match ball in 1994
Warne is pictured attending the Betfair weekend featuring The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot Racecourse in 2013
The life and times of one of the greatest cricketers of all time:
June 1993 – Warne bowls the ‘ball of the century’ to Mike Gatting, announcing himself on the world cricket stage
1995 – Warne marries Simone Callahan
2003 – Warne is banned from playing cricket and misses that year’s World Cup after testing positive for a banned drug
2005 – Warne and Callahan divorce
2006 – The spin bowler retires from international cricket having taken a record 708 test wickets
That same year, Warne has drives from Southampton to London for a tryst with two women
2011 – Liz Hurley and Warne start a relationship that lasts for two years
2014 – Warne has a brief relationship with Playboy model Emily Scott
2019 – Warne reportedly has a noisy four-way sex party at his London home
Warne was born in Melbourne in 1969 to Keith, an insurance consultant, and Brigitte, whose family emigrated from German after the Second World War.
The youngster proved talented at Australian Rules football and won a sports scholarship to Mentone Grammar School aged 15.
After school he was handed a trial contract at St Kilda Saints, but 18 months later it was not renewed.
Warne had until that point not shown a huge interest in cricket, despite his local club saying he was ‘quite good as a batsman’.
But it soon emerged he was a talented spinner of the ball, despite his small, chubby hands.
By 1992 Warne had proved himself at a local level and made it into the Australian set up, making his Test debut against India.
He had a tricky start in international cricket but his career skyrocketed the next year and he went on to become one of the best players the game ever saw, bowling what commonly became known as ‘the ball of the century’ in 1993.
Warne’s retirement remained just as frantic as his playing schedule, with the former athlete wrapped up in numerous sex scandals following boozy nights out in Britain, Australia or the US.
In a heartbreaking documentary, he confronted being caught cheating on his then wife Simone Callahanwith multiple women, which led to their marriage breaking down in 2005.
The Amazon Prime programme, which came out this year, saw him admit to drowning his sorrows alone in his hotel room, drinking until he was ‘crying on the floor’ after his family fled England in the wake of the scandals.
Ms Callahan also spoke about her own heartbreak after landing in the UK to find stories of her husband’s numerous infidelities splashed across newspaper front pages.
She told the show she and the couple’s three children, Brooke, Jackson and Summer, ‘were going to set up a life in England’ and had uprooted their lives in Australia to do so.
Warne revealed that ‘unfortunately there was a story that broke of me with two women just before they landed… Simone read that story.’
Callahan described the litany of newspaper articles about her husband’s affairs as: ‘Shane’s with this [woman], Shane’s with this [woman], Shane’s with that [woman].’
‘My life was pretty much turned on its head,’ the former model-turned-yoga instructor said. ‘It wasn’t even a two-week turnaround before I came back to Australia.’
The spin bowler ultimately owned up to his mistakes, confessing in an interview at the time: ‘I gave into temptation, gave into opportunity.’
The pair, who share children Brooke, Jackson and Summer, briefly reconciled after their divorce, but split for good in 2010.
Ex-files: Warne’s ex-wife Simone Callahan (left) also revealed her own heartbreak at landing in the UK to find stories of her husband’s numerous infidelities splashed across newspaper front pages. Pictured right: Warne admitting to giving in to ‘temptations’ in a 2005 interview
Happier times: Callahan said she and the couple’s three children ‘were going to set up a life in England’ and had uprooted their lives in Australia to do so. Pictured here on their wedding day
Another sex scandal was finally uncovered in 2018, when Warne revealed the full details of his infamous threesome with two models and a blow-up sex toy.
Warne was playing a county cricket game in England in 2006 when he was sent a text inviting him to meet with 25-year-old Coralie Eichholtz and he friend Emma Kearney, 25.
Pictures of their tryst were published in the media – featuring Warne wearing Playboy underwear – and the cricketer said the betrayal still angered him.
At the time, Ms Eichholtz sent him a text saying ‘You should be here with me’, followed up by a photo of her and Ms Kearney kissing each other.
‘They were in London, I was in Southampton. I texted back, saying I’d be there in an hour,’ Warne wrote in his book No Spin.
After picking up three bottles of alcohol, Warne drove to Kearney’s house in Knightsbridge where the sexual escapade took place.
‘They got up and started dancing with each other, very provocatively, very sexual, kissing each other,’ Warne wrote.
Warne watched them while smoking and having a drink, before the women pulled out a ‘massive, inflatable sex toy’.
‘There was a lot of laughter, another drink, and one thing led to another. I started kissing them both, clothes off, and then, from nowhere, they pulled a bed out of the wall! Well, we just went for it,’ Warne wrote.
After the trio had sex, Warne left the apartment at 2.30am and drove to the cricket ground.
He slept in his car for a few hours before playing, and took seven wickets in his Hampshire side’s win over Middlesex. Coming off the field, Warne said he was ‘tired out’.
Before and after: It was during his first trip to England in 1989 that Warne stacked on the kilos through a combination of beer and unhealthy eating
Warne dated former Playboy model Emily Scott in 2014
Warne was also said to be dating the model Emily Sears, who he is pictured with above
In 2019, Warne was also reported to have had a noisy four-way sex party with his lover and two escorts at his London home.
The spin bowler, then 49, threw the windows open at his £2.7million Maida Vale mansion in and his antics were said to be so loud the neighbours could hear.
His unnamed lover had turned up at home with two sex workers identified as Davina, 19, and Poppy, 27, who worked for £400 and £500 respectively.
One onlooker said: ‘He was having quite a party in there and didn’t seem to give a damn who heard what was going on. He left the windows wide open and you could clearly hear all the noises.’
In 2000, he lost the Australia vice-captaincy for sending erotic texts to a British nurse while he was a father and married.
After a series of high-profile romps, he tried to get back with Simone but accidentally sent her a saucy text which was meant for a different woman.
Warne started dating Liz Hurley in 2011 and were engaged but this was later called off. Allegations that he had a 2011 fling with porn star Chloe Conrad were published by the Sunday Mirror.
Shortly after, Hurley tweeted: ‘Happy Valentine’s Day! Remember, love is like a rollercoaster ride- sometimes it’s exhilarating but sometimes you feel sick and want to get off.’
But the pair managed to move past the allegations, staying together until their split in late 2013.
Warne started dating Liz Hurley in 2011 and were engaged but this was later called off. Allegations that he had a 2011 fling with porn star Chloe Conrad were published by the Sunday Mirror
Warne and Liz Hurley are pictured sharing a kiss at Edgbaston, Birmingham when they were together in 2011
The following year, Shane began a short relationship with former Playboy model Emily Scott. He claimed the two were just friends, before he was spotted by photographers on a late night visit to her house.
After his split from Emily he was seen on a night out with Sophie Monk. Sophie claims the couple kissed, but Shane has denied the claims.
The single star has also hit the headlines in recent years for his reported use of online dating apps.
In 2015, single mother Kim McGrath revealed to Woman’s Day that she hooked up with Shane after the pair were matched on Tinder.
Kim told the magazine she and Shane had a wild sex romp, with Shane ‘asking her to stand in the corner in her high heels while he spanked her’ before the cricket ace encouraged her to try a few ‘porno’ style moves.
In early 2016, 24-year-old Simone Toon claimed she met Shane on the website richsugardaddies.com. The busty model told the Sun that Warne sent pictures of his manhoood, before saying he wanted to ‘whip and spank’ her.
The newspaper stated that Simone Toon said the spin king was ‘begging her for a kinky threesome with a ‘sl*t” just minutes after they met.
Several months later, Shane was caught by paparazzi heading to Brynne Edelsten’s apartment for a ‘nightcap’. Shane accused Brynne of tipping off the photographers, with the busty blonde hitting back, showing Woman’s Day the cricket star’s texts.
‘Excited for me to devour u? X’ one of Warne’s steamy messages to Brynne read.
In early 2016, 24-year-old Simone Toon claimed she met Shane on the website richsugardaddies.com
And in 2018 in London, Shane was snapped smooching a blonde woman, who was revealed as twentysomething law student, Kathryn Long.
Away from the sex scandals, Warne courted yet more controversy, having failed a drugs test at the cricket World Cup in 2003 and being sent home.
Warne had tested positive for a diuretic – a drug often used to help weight loss or as a masking agent for other drugs. Warne protested his innocence, saying: ‘It’s not finalised until my B sample.
‘I was shocked and absolutely devastated that the test sample indicated a presence of a prohibited substance. I’m shocked because I have not taken performance enhancing drugs.
‘I did take a fluid tablet before my comeback game in Sydney. The tablet is supposed to dehydrate you and rid your body of any excess fluid. I didn’t know it contained any banned substance.
‘I have never taken performance enhancing drugs and am confident it will be cleared up soon. My previous tests have always come back negative.’
Warne later claimed that his mother Bridgette had given him the pill without realising it would affect any drugs tests.
Warne died aged 52 following a suspected heart attack after being found unresponsive at his villa in Thailand on Friday.
‘It is with great sadness we advise that Shane Keith Warne passed away of a suspected heart attack in Koh Samui, Thailand today, Friday 4 March,’ a statement from his management company read.
The statement added: ‘Shane was found unresponsive in his Villa and despite the best efforts of medical staff, he could not be revived. The family requests privacy at this time and will provide further details in due course.’
Warne – who was the joint-leading wicket-taker as Australia won the 1999 World Cup and finished with 293 one-day dismissals in 194 matches – brought an illustrious 15-year international career to an end in 2007.
Named as one of the five Wisden Cricketers of the Century, alongside Sir Donald Bradman, Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Jack Hobbs and Sir Viv Richards, Warne’s impact on the game is immediately apparent.
His leg breaks, googlies, flippers and sliders bamboozled many accomplished batters and England were often in his crosshairs. He took 195 wickets at 23.25 with 11 five-fors and four 10-wicket match hauls against the old rivals.
But there was also an affinity with England, with Warne representing Hampshire with distinction from 2000 to 2007.
He became the first bowler to reach 700 Test wickets before bowing out after helping Australia seal a 5-0 Ashes victory in the 2006/07 series.
He continued to play on the franchise Twenty20 circuit before retiring from playing altogether in 2013, after which he became well-renowned for his insight and forthright opinion as a commentator and pundit.
Warne’s death came just hours after that of fellow Australia great Rod Marsh, who died aged 74 – with Warne among those paying tribute to him.
Current Australia opener David Warner wrote on Twitter: ‘Two legends of our game have left us too soon. I’m lost for words, and this is extremely sad.
‘My thoughts and prayers go out to the Marsh and Warne family. I just can not believe it. #rip, you will both be missed.’