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  Thursday, 1 February, 2001, 12:47 GMT
Snooker's stars from afar
Cliff Thorburn
Thorburn (r) was arguably the greatest overseas star
BBC Sport Online looks at four overseas players who have made an impact of snooker scene over the last few years.

Snooker generally finds the leading lights of the game from the British Isles.

You would have to go back to 1980 to find a world champion not from elsewhere - Canada's Cliff Thorburn.

But there are a few figures in the game who have recently made a name both back in their homeland and in Britain.


Marco Fu - Hong Kong

Marco Fu
Fu is the best of the current crop

Fu's rise to the elite of world snooker has been nothing short of astonishing.

He turned professional in 1998 and reached the Grand Prix final later that year.

Fu beat the likes of Ronnie O'Sullivan and Peter Ebdon on the way, but found Stephen Lee too tough a proposition, losing 9-2.

The 23-year old Fu was voted WSA Young Player of the Year in 1999.

He carried on where he left off and made the semi-finals of the Rothmans Grand Prix in Malta, where he was beaten 6-3 by Mark Williams, and also reached the same stage of the Regal Scottish Masters.

It is certain that Fu will be a major threat at the B&H Masters.


Quinten Hann - Australia

Quinten Hann
Hann's lack of self-control has cost him dear

Arguably the most frustrating talent on the circuit.

Naturally gifted, but often the victim of his own impatience.

The end of 2000 saw Hann fall twice to Ronnie O'Sullivan in consecutive tournaments - the British Open and then the UK Championship.

Hann lost 5-0 on the first occasion and it was an event which saw the petulant side of the player.

He failed to play in a sportsmanlike manner, smashing the balls around randomly, after realising that O'Sullivan was in control of the game.

He subsequently lost the match 5-0.

The Australian has the talent to make it to the top but lwill have to improve his attitude to the game.


Tony Drago - Malta

Tony Drago
Enter the Drago, Malta's sporting hero

Probably the greatest sports star the little island of Malta has ever produced.

Drago turned professional in 1985 and has stunned audiences around the world with his speed of play.

During the 1995 UK Championship he managed to compile a century break in just three minutes and 30 seconds.

Despite never hitting the heights in the game, Drago did manage to reach the final of a world ranking event in 1997 - the International Open.

He defeated John Parrott and John Higgins in that tournament, but fell 9-1 to Stephen Hendry at the final hurdle.


James Wattana - Thailand

James Wattana
The "Thaiphoon" has recently subsided

The "Thai Typhoon" was the first player from Asia to make a big mark on the game.

The 30-year old Bangkok star was once as high as number three in the world but poor form and reported eye problems have seen him slip down the rankings in recent years.

He won the World Matchplay in 1992, beating none other than Steve Davis in the final.

He was subsequently voted Thailand Sportsman of the Year on three separate occasions.

During the early 1990s he also reached three British Open finals, but lost them all.

More imporatnly he paved the way for others from the Far East to make a name for themselves in the game.

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