Dale Steyn became the leading wicket-taker for the Proteas with 439 scalps in 93 Tests, at an average of 22.95. Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix

A true champion. An “overall nutter”. Something special…

Those were just some of the ways in which Proteas legend Dale Steyn was described by some of his former teammates and opponents after announcing his retirement from Test cricket on Monday.

Steyn, who turned 36 in June, said in a Cricket South Africa statement that he was hanging up his boots in red-ball cricket.

He will keep going in the limited-overs format, where he will be available for South Africa in ODI and T20 Internationals.

But it was in the five-day format where Steyn set the world alight, becoming the leading wicket-taker for the Proteas and eighth on the overall global list with 439 scalps in 93 Tests, at an average of 22.95 and a strike rate of 42.3.

His best match analysis was 11/60 against Pakistan in Johannesburg in 2013, with his top performance in an innings being the 7/51 against India in Nagpur in 2010.

Steyn claimed 26 five-wicket hauls and took 10 wickets in a match on five occasions.

The tributes were led by current Proteas captain Faf du Plessis, who said on Twitter: “The greatest of his generation. Stats don’t lie and @DaleSteyn62 test stats is the best. I know how much test cricket means to you bud and how badly you still wanted to achieve more. Hopefully we will still see a lot of this action.”

Former England captain Kevin Pietersen said: “Take A Bow - @DaleSteyn62! You’ve been the best fast bowler in this modern day era! Pleasure to play against you and with you! Let’s sink some beers in the bush soon...! Retirement is SOOOO good!”

Indian skipper Virat Kohli added: “A true champion of the game. Happy retirement to the pace machine @DaleSteyn62”

Others to comment on social media:

Herschelle Gibbs: “What an athlete, bowler and overall nutter @DaleSteyn62! From your first test match I knew you were something special and your numbers back that up perfectly. Your bouncer wasn’t slow either. Congrats”

Shane Warne: “Congrats on a wonderful career buddy & yes you did entertain us all! Well done @DaleSteyn62! The game is poorer without you mate”

Paul Adams: “Wow...you inspired, entertained and we all loved every moment you bowled in test cricket for the #Proteas Congrats @DaleSteyn62 #GOAT”

Robin Peterson: “Without a shadow of a doubt the best bowler I’ve played with in every condition. Besides the skill he was the probably the coolest fast bowler around. Welcome to the real world @DaleSteyn62 #legend Loved every minute of how you played your heart out for our country”

Bryan Habana: “One of the best the game of test cricket has ever seen!!! Thanks for giving us so much joy @DaleSteyn62 and for wearing your heart on your sleeve every time you stepped onto the field and giving 110% no questions asked!!”

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