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Graham Gooch pays tribute to 'hero' Alastair Cook as record run scorer retires from England

Alastair Cook is England's highest test run scorer by some distance. Photo: PA

Former England cricket captain Graham Gooch has paid tribute to Alastair Cook calling him a "role model" and a "hero", after England's all-time record run-scorer announced he will retire from international cricket.

Cook, who has made 12,254 runs in a 160-Test career over the past 12 years, will step down after this week's Oval Test.

He described it as a "sad day" but says he will retire "with a big smile on my face, knowing I have given everything".

The former captain, a four-time Ashes winner, added that at the age of 33 "there is nothing left in the tank" to continue to serve beyond this summer as Test opener.

Gooch was Cook's longtime mentor, and he told ITV News that along with being the "rock of the England batting", Cook's legacy will be "as someone that youngsters can model themselves on, can look up to, and be proud of".

Cook said: "After much thought and deliberation over the last few months I have decided to announce my retirement from international cricket at the end of this Test series against India.

"Although it is a sad day, I can do so with a big smile on my face - knowing I have given everything, and there is nothing left in the tank.

Cook scored a century on his England Test debut. Credit: PA

"I have achieved more than I could have ever imagined and feel very privileged to have played for such a long time alongside some of the greats of the English game."

Cook, who has indicated he will play on next summer for his county Essex, has endured a lean summer at the top of the order for England - averaging just 15.57 in seven innings against India which have mustered only 109.

He nonetheless stands sixth in the all-time global list of leading Test run-scorers, just above West Indies great Brian Lara.

There has been ongoing debate about his position of late, because of his moderate form. But he is statistically England's best batsman, having surpassed his own mentor Graham Gooch's previous high of 8,900 runs three years ago.

Cook added: "The thought of not sharing the dressing room, again, with some of my team-mates was the hardest part of my decision - but I know the timing is right.

I have loved cricket my whole life from playing in the garden as a child and will never underestimate how special it is to pull on an England shirt

– Alastair Cook

"So I know it is the right time to give the next generation of young cricketers their turn to entertain us and feel the immense pride that comes with representing your country."

Cook voiced his gratitude - among many others - to Gooch, his family and England's travelling supporters in the 'Barmy Army'.

"There are too many people to thank individually, but a special mention must go to the 'Barmy Army' and all supporters for their constant encouragement for the team - and also a special mention to Graham Gooch," he said.

"As a seven-year-old, I queued for his autograph outside Essex County Cricket Club - and years later was so fortunate to have him mentoring me.

"Graham was my sounding board, especially in the early years of my career, spending hour after hour throwing balls at me with his dog stick.

"He made me realise you always need to keep improving, whatever you are trying to achieve."

Cook went on to play 160 Test matches for England. Credit: PA

Cook's wife Alice is about to have their third child - an event which may yet coincide with his final Test. He will be hoping to go out on a high in a series Joe Root's England wrapped up with a 60-run victory in Southampton on Sunday to establish an unassailable 3-1 lead.

"My family and I have had 12 wonderful years fulfilling my dreams, and this could not have been done without them," he said.

"So I wish to thank my parents and brothers, my wife, Alice, and her family for their quiet, unwavering support behind the scenes.

"As cricketers, who travel frequently, we often don't realise just how important our families are to our success.

"I would also like to thank Essex County Cricket Club for their help and support ever since I was 12, and I can't wait to get fully involved with them in the 2019 season.

"I wish the England team every success in the future, and I will be watching with great excitement."