Virat Kohli (R) and team mate AB De Villiers | AFP File
Johannesburg: Tributes poured in for AB de Villiers after the South African batter on Friday announced his retirement from all forms of cricket, with Indian maestro Virat Kohli aptly summing up his greatness by calling him the "best player of our times".
One of contemporary cricket's greatest batters, de Villiers has brought an end to his glorious 17-year career in top-flight, stating the flame within "doesn't burn so brightly" anymore.
India's Test and ODI captain Kohli, who has shared the Royal Challengers Bangalore dressing room with de Villiers since 2011, has always been an ardent admirer of the versatile South African cricketer.
"To the best player of our times and the most inspirational person I've met, you can be very proud of what you've done and what you've given to RCB my brother. Our bond is beyond the game and will always be," Kohli tweeted.
"This hurts my heart but I know you've made the best decision for yourself and your family like you've always done. I love you," he added.
The 37-year-old de Villiers made the announcement on Twitter, ending an illustrious career, which saw him play 114 Tests, 228 ODIs and 78 T20Is for the Proteas besides representing various franchises in T20 leagues across the world.
He walks into sunset after dominating the game for nearly two decades with his 360 degree batting.
"The best I've ever seen, and someone who I've always looked up to! Took the game to another level singlehandedly mr360," said England's wicketkeeper-batter Sam Billings.
Billings' compatriot Jason Roy wrote, "What a player and what a man. Absolute genius and an even better human. Thanks for what you did for the game!"
Seasoned India opener Shikhar Dhawan said, "Your contribution to cricket has been immense. A true legend of this beautiful game and a wonderful athlete. Good luck for whatever the future has in store for you."
Former India batter VVS Laxman wrote, "Congratulations on a fabulous career. One of the true modern day greats and an inspiration for so many. Wish you the very best in your second innings."
Former Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene said, "Congratulations on a fabulous career.. brilliant guy on and off the field. Wishing you all the very best in your future. Pure class."
De Villiers has played 156 matches for RCB and scored 4,491 runs.
He is the second all-time leading run scorer behind Kohli and holds the second and third-highest individual run total in RCB history with 133 not out against Mumbai Indians (in 2015) and 129 not out against Gujarat Lions (in 2016).
De Villiers had announced his retirement from international cricket in 2018.
"Thank you for the memories, the records broken and the entertainment. We salute your contribution to the game and wish you everything of the best for the future," Cricket South Africa (CSA) tweeted.
Former India player Wasim Jaffer too congratulated de Villiers on a "phenomenal" career.
"Congratulations on a phenomenal career. One of the most loved and admired cricketers of the modern era. Happy retirement legend," Jaffer tweeted.
De Villiers has scored 8,765 Test runs at an average of 50.66. He has also taken two Test wickets. His highest score was 278 not out and also has 22 centuries against his name.
Making his Test debut against England in 2004, de Villiers has been one of the star performers of South Africa.
He has been a 360 degree player in ODIs and T20 Internationals. De Villiers scored 9577 ODI runs at an impressive average of 53.50.
His highest score in ODIs was 176 at an strike rate of 101.09. He has scored 25 centuries in ODIs. He made his ODI debut in 2005 against England.
In 78 T20 internationals, he has scored 1672 runs at an average of 26.12. He made his T20 international debut in 2006 against Australia.