DAY TWO of the snooker World Championship saw the sport say goodbye to one its greatest players of all time as Steve Davis announced his retirement.
Six times world champion Davis today (Sunday) announced the end of his 38-year playing career at the Crucible Theatre where he achieved his greatest moments by lifting the World Championship title.
It means the 58-year-old’s recent World Championship qualifying 10-4 defeat to Fergal O’Brien will go down in history as his final match of a famous career.
In a fitting send off from the Crucible crowd, Davis was introduced into the famous arena one last time, just before today’s afternoon session. He was given a long ovation as he waved goodbye.
Though Davis was relegated off the main tour two years ago, Davis has been allowed to enter the qualification stages of the World Championship because of his status in the sport.
Davis will continue his role as an expert commentator and analyst for BBC Sport. He remains a director for governing body the WPBSA and figurehead for the sport’s Cue Zone Into Schools Programme.
This season he decided to enter the sport’s biggest event in order to give his father Bill the chance to watch him on live streaming one last time.
However, sadly, Bill died at the age of 89 last month, leaving Steve to play in the tournament as a tribute. Davis almost broke down in a press conference today when he said that his match against O’Brien was the only one he’d ever played without his father.
Unquestionably one of snooker’s all-time greats, Davis was the sport’s first true professional as his career got going just as the boom took off in the late 1970s. Relentless dedication to practice and unprecedented focus on technique, guided by his father and coach Frank Callan, made Davis the best player in the world, eclipsing the triumvirate of the old regime: Ray Reardon, John Spencer and Alex Higgins.
The Nugget as he has been nicknamed for decades won the World Championship six times and dominated snooker throughout the 1980s. However despite winning the famous trophy six times, he is arguably best known for when he became runner-up to Dennis Taylor in 1985 when millions tuned in to see Davis miss the final black before Taylor clinched the title.
The final is still remembered more than 30 years on and is said to be the sport’s most famous moment.
Davis paid tribute to father Bill and said he would not play again because the game now had got ‘too hard’ for him to compete at the highest level.
“It has been a fantastic. The game will move on to other places but I feel like the grandfather of the sport,” said Davis.
“I will still do exhibitions and enjoy snooker and be part of it. Hopefully I’ll be with the BBC team for as many years as they want me. I will still be involved in the coaching and schools project because I think those things are important. I just don’t want to play any more. It’s too hard, just too hard.
“It had cross my mind that perhaps I could go for the challenge of Q School next year just to see how I got on. In a way it would be going full circle to see if I could qualify to turn pro again. But my father wasn’t well so I entered the World Championship for him this year. He was still alive when I entered, then he passed away so I played the match against Fergal and it was only one I ever played without him.
“Beating John Higgins in 2010 was just the most amazing match I’ve ever played. When you are not supposed to win and then you do is a great feeling. If I had retired earlier – as Stephen Hendry did – I wouldn’t have had that moment. Beating Ronnie O’Sullivan when I wasn’t supposed to at the Masters was the same. But I think the best moment of my career was missing the black against Dennis Taylor, because it showed how much snooker was appreciated by the public.”
|Steve Davis’ career in numbers|
|World titles: Six (1981,1983, 1984, 1987,1988,1989)||Ranking tournament wins: 28|
|Century breaks: 355||Career winnings: £5,613,536|