SNOOKER waved goodbye to one of its greatest ever players after seven-times World Champion Stephen Hendry announced his retirement from the game.
Hendry bows out after losing to Stephen Maguire 13-2 in the World Championship quarter-finals at the Crucible.
His announcement ends what has been a wonderful career for the Perthshire potting superstar who dominated the game in the 1990s and took snooker into a new level. Many in the snooker world describe him as the best player to have ever played the game.
Hendry turned professional in 1985 and boasts 36 ranking tournament wins in a playing career panning 27 years. In 1990, the 21-year-old, became the youngest ever player to win a world title after his victory over Jimmy White.
This was just the start for the Scot who then went on to win five consecutive world titles between 1992 and 1996 before winning at the famous Crucible for a record seventh time in 1999.
As well as winning seven world titles, Hendry has five UK Championship wins to his name and is a four-times British Open winner.
His marvellous break-building and style of play drew Hendry millions of fans from all over the world and many young players today aspire to play like him. During his career, the Scot has earned total prize money of nearly £9million.
In a way bowing out during this year’s World Championships could not be more fitting after hitting a stunning 147 maximum break in his first round match against Stuart Bingham.
Hendry said in his post-match press conference: “I made the decision about three months ago, I didn’t tell many people, I only told two or three people but this is me finished in tournament snooker.
“It was quite an easy decision, there’s a few reasons which I’m not going to go into in detail and bore you with. The schedule didn’t help, the fact that I’m not playing the snooker I want to play doesn’t help, the fact I don’t enjoy practice doesn’t help. I’ve got other things I want to do, I’ve got a lot of commitments now in China which I’ve signed up for and I can’t do both, I can’t do that and play snooker, because I would never be at home, so the time is right for me.
“If I’d have won this event, it would have been an even better way to go out. I’m delighted that I’ve made a maximum here, that’s why I was more animated than normal when making it, I was delighted to do it on my last appearance here. It wasn’t a spur of the moment thing, I thought about it last year, but 2 or 3 months ago I decided enough was enough.
“My best memories are my first win here, the seventh world title, the maximums, being the youngest ever world champion, no one’s beaten that yet, I could write a book on the memories I’ve had here.
“I’m not really emotional, you know what I’ve been like over the years, I’ve not been the most emotional of people even when I win. It’s sad that I won’t play here again because I love playing here, but it’s a relief as much as anything. I haven’t got a lot of things to regret in my career.”
“It was the right decision to make, it’s sad that your my match was a 13-2 drubbing, but at least it wasn’t 13-0! I haven’t been able to play the way I want to play for the last ten years and it has ground me down, I keep getting beat in first and second rounds to people who I still know are not as good as me, after a while it becomes too much.”
WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson said: “On behalf of the WPBSA I’d like to thank Stephen for the fantastic contribution he has made to the sport of snooker over the past 25 years.
“He has been an outstanding professional and the greatest competitor our sport has ever seen. He has brought joy to many millions of fans around the world with his style of play, determination and sportsmanship.
“He has been a great role model for young players coming into the game and so many people connected with the sport have benefitted from his legacy. I am certain he will continue to be a great ambassador for many years.”
Jimmy White, who lost to Hendry in four World Championship finals, wrote on Twitter: “He was and is an unbelievable player and has nothing to prove. I hope he enjoys his retirement, he really deserves it.
“He always put snooker first, been a model professional and a credit to the game. I thank him sincerely for some of the best matches and memories of my own career. I’m not sure his records will ever be equalled.”