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Last Updated: Monday, 9 October 2006, 21:03 GMT 22:03 UK
Hunter loses battle with cancer
Paul Hunter
Born: 14/10/1978
Turned pro: 1998
Major titles: Welsh Open ('98, '02), Masters ('01, '02, '04), British Open ('02)
Family: Wife Lindsey, daughter Evie Rose
Died: 9/10/2006
Snooker star Paul Hunter has died aged 27 after a battle with cancer.

The Leeds player was taken into the Kirkwood Hospice in Huddersfield last Friday and died on Monday evening.

The three-time Masters champion was diagnosed with dozens of neuro endocrine tumours on the lining of his stomach in March 2005.

Hunter would have been 28 on Saturday. He leaves a wife, Lindsey, and a daughter, Evie Rose, who was born on Boxing Day of last year.

Former world champion John Parrott was among the first to pay tribute.

"Paul certainly brought a touch of glamour to the game - they called him 'the Beckham of the baize'," Parrott told BBC Five Live.

"And his performances at Wembley were fantastic. To win three titles was tremendous.

"He was a happy-go-lucky man, always played with a smile on his face and never had a bad word to say about anyone."

Stephen Hendry, the seven-times world champion, added: "I'm absolutely devastated by the news.


"He's got a young family and he had a fantastic future in front of him. It's everyone's worst nightmare and puts everything into perspective."

Willie Thorne, a BBC commentator and former professional, said: "Deep down I think we all thought he was going to beat the disease.

"He was one of the best-looking snooker players we ever had and had a heart like a lion.

"He lit up the stage when he played, was a very flamboyant player and there will be a big hole in everybody's hearts for the next year or so."

And World Snooker chairman Sir Rodney Walker added: "Paul was a man who had everything going for him - an outstanding talent, good looks, fame, riches, charm and a beautiful wife.

"This shows us just how quickly life can change.

"It's a bitter blow for snooker, but most importantly for his family, and our thoughts are with them."

The governing body are considering a tribute for Hunter and are planning to make a decision in the "next few weeks".

Paul Hunter was a great player and I'm sure that he would have been a future world champion

Willie Thorne

Hunter turned professional at the age of 16 in 1995 and won his first major title, the 1998 Welsh Open, at the age of 19.

He also won the Welsh title in 2002 and picked up the British Open trophy the same year.

But he will be best remembered for his exploits at Wembley.

Hunter recovered from 7-3 down to beat Fergal O'Brien 10-9 in the 2001 final after finding inspiration with wife Lindsey during the midway interval.

Hunter won eight of 11 frames in the evening session and what he jokingly called his 'plan B' became the stuff of legend.

He also fought back from 5-0 down to beat Mark Williams 10-9 in the final a year later.

And he completed a hat-trick of Masters victories in 2004 when he came from 7-2 down to beat Ronnie O'Sullivan 10-9.

A splash of wedding photos in Hello! magazine confirmed Hunter as a sportsman who transcended his chosen pursuit to achieve celebrity status.

He should have reached the 2003 World Championship final, where he led Ken Doherty 15-9 in the semi-finals before the Irishman stormed back to win 17-16.

But, despite never winning the world title, Doherty labelled Hunter as one of snooker's "greatest characters".

"It's a very sad day, not only for snooker but also for the sporting world," he said.

"We've lost a great character, champion and a great friend. It's a shocking loss.

"He had everything, the world at his feet, and it's such a shame. He was one of our characters and a fantastic player.

"Words can't explain what his family must be going through and they are all in our minds and our prayers."

And Thorne believes Hunter would have certainly won at the Worlds if cancer had not struck.

"Anyone who wins the Masters back-to-back is a great player," said Thorne.

"Paul Hunter was a great player and I'm sure that he would have been a future world champion, without a doubt."

Despite chemotherapy treatment, Hunter continued to compete professionally but won only one match last season and fell from fifth to 34th in the rankings.

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09 Oct 06 |  Snooker
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27 Jul 06 |  Snooker
Hunter admits to playing in pain
17 Apr 06 |  Snooker
Players support Hunter on return
13 Jan 06 |  Snooker
Hunter is diagnosed with cancer
06 Apr 05 |  Snooker

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