The explosive middle-order batsman replaced Michael Vaughan following his resignation after a home series against South Africa was lost and also took the reins from Paul Collingwood in the limited overs format.
Things started well as Pietersen scored a century and helped England to victory in the dead rubber match with the Proteas at the Oval, but things went downhill from there.
Pietersen took his side to India for a tour that was disrupted by a terrorist attack in Mumbai, losing the one-day series before the incident and then going down 1-0 in a two-Test series on their return.
But it was ahead of a tour to West Indies that things began to unravel as the outspoken Pietersen's relationship with coach Peter Moores became untenable.
Pietersen was reportedly unhappy at Vaughan's omission from the squad for the Caribbean and previous tensions between the two heightened when the captain resigned – after only three Tests and nine ODIs – and Moores was sacked.
Andrew Strauss replaced Pietersen and turned out to be an excellent appointment, leading England to home and away Ashes victories and a spot at the top of the world rankings.
Pietersen played a full part in that success, but the controversy followed him around as, after texting the South African team with tactical advice mid-series, he was shunned from the team after a stormy Ashes contest in Australia.