Born in South Africa in 1980 to an Afrikaner father and English mother, he made his first-class debut at the age of 17.
In 1999, while playing with KwaZula Natal, he impressed former England captain Nasser Hussain and the following year signed for Nottinghamshire.
He had a stunning debut season. 'If he can mainatin his first season's form, the name of Pietersen should be pencilled in for future Test squads,' was the glowing report in the Wisden Crickets' Almanack. He moved to Shane Warne's Hampshire in 2004 and went on to make his international debut in the controversial tour of Zimbabwe the same year.
He soon became a cornerstone of the England side and played a key role in the thrilling victory in the 2005 Ashes, where he finished the series as the highest scoring player.
In August 2008, he was appointed captain and led his adopted country to a victory in the Test against South Africa, and four wins in one day internationals.
But his captaincy lasted only five short months and, after continual run-ins with the team's coach Peter Moores, he quit in early January 2009. Cocky, outspoken and undoubtedly talented, Kevin Pietersen looks sure to be a giant of the sport for many years to come.