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Page last updated at 14:50 GMT, Thursday, 17 December 2009

Jimmy White given wildcard into Masters at Wembley

Jimmy White pictured at the recent BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards show
White has long been a favourite of the Wembley crowds

Snooker legend Jimmy White has been handed a wildcard into the Masters at Wembley Arena starting on 10 January.

"The Whirlwind", who recently appeared on the reality TV show "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here", has fallen to 56 in the world rankings.

But the six-time World Championship finalist, who won the Masters in 1984, insists snooker is still his priority.

"I'm delighted to get the wildcard, it will be great to be back at Wembley," said the 47-year-old Londoner.

"I'd like to thank the new Board [of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association] for their decision.

"I've only just got my sleep pattern back after getting home from the jungle. Snooker's still my number one priority and I'll be ready for the Masters."

Throughout his career Jimmy's played shots that most snooker players can only dream of

WPBSA chairman Barry Hearn

White will take on world number 16 Mark King in one of two first-round matches, with the winner facing Scot Stephen Maguire in the second round.

Barry Hearn, who was confirmed as the new chairman of the WPBSA on Wednesday, believes White's continuing popularity, despite his fall down the rankings, will ensure a full house for the opening evening of the event, on Sunday, 10 January.

"Jimmy is one of Britain's great sporting superstars," Hearn said. "He has attracted vast crowds all across the world, but nowhere more than Wembley, where the fans regard him as one of their own.

"He'll pack the place out and the atmosphere will be sizzling. There was no doubt in my mind that he is the man to take up the wildcard challenge.


"Throughout his career he's played shots that most snooker players can only dream of and it makes great viewing for live audiences and on TV."

The other first-round match will see Welshman Mark Williams take on qualifier Rory McLeod, and there are a number of mouth-watering clashes in the second round.

Defending champion Ronnie O'Sullivan, aiming for a fifth Masters title, takes on provisional world number three Neil Robertson.

Last year's beaten finalist Mark Selby, the 2008 champion, will take on newly crowned UK Championship winner Ding Junhui.

World champion John Higgins takes on Northern Ireland's Mark Allen, while six-time Masters champion Stephen Hendry meets Shaun Murphy.

Masters first round:

Mark Williams (Wal) v Rory McLeod (Eng)
Mark King (Eng) v Jimmy White (Eng)

Masters second round:

Ronnie O'Sullivan (Eng) v Neil Robertson (Aus)
Marco Fu (HK) v Peter Ebdon (Eng)
Allister Carter (Eng) v Williams/McLeod
Shaun Murphy (Eng) v Stephen Hendry (Sco)
Stephen Maguire (Sco) v King/White
Ryan Day (Wal) v Joe Perry (Eng)
Mark Selby (Eng) v Ding Junhui (Chi)
John Higgins (Sco) v Mark Allen (NI)

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see also
Masters 2010 - Full results
16 Jan 10 |  Snooker
Ding defeats Higgins in UK final
14 Dec 09 |  Snooker
Hearn confirmed as snooker chief
17 Dec 09 |  Snooker
O'Sullivan reclaims Masters crown
19 Jan 09 |  Snooker
Snooker on the BBC
08 Apr 11 |  Snooker

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