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John Higgins profile

World number one John Higgins
Higgins won the world tile in 1998, 2007 and 2009

By Mark Ashenden
BBC Sport at the Crucible

John Higgins is the world's number one snooker player and only 12 months ago was crowned world champion for the third time to join an elite group of players.

Only Stephen Hendry (seven), Steve Davis (six) and Ronnie O'Sullivan (three) can boast more than two world titles in the modern era.

It was a victory that came two weeks before the Scot's 34th birthday, as he became the oldest winner at the Crucible since Dennis Taylor's epic victory in 1985 at the age of 36.

All of Higgins' renowned battling qualities were on show during the 17-day tournament in 2009.

He won last-frame thrillers against Jamie Cope and Mark Selby and resisted a stirring fightback by Northern Irishman Mark Allen in the semi-finals before winning 17-13.

John Higgins and his wife and family

Video - Higgins wins third World title

Higgins is widely admired inside and outside the game, a humble family man devoted to wife Denise and their three children, who were present to celebrate his final success against Shaun Murphy.

The couple recently appeared on the TV show 'All Star Mr and Mrs' to raise money for charity, with John also showing off his knowledge of the 1980s show Dallas on the BBC's Celebrity Mastermind.

A devoted supporter of Celtic football club, he was highly fancied to pick up his fourth world title this year, but succumbed to one of the Crucible's biggest shocks when he lost to 52-year-old Davis.

Afterwards, the six-time champion remarked "you couldn't wish to beat a nicer bloke than John". Davis has also described Higgins as "possibly the most complete all-round player the game has ever seen".

The 34-year-old - nicknamed the Wizard of Wishaw - has won 21 ranking titles, made five maximum 147 breaks in tournaments and hit 436 career centuries.

And following an impressive 15 months on the baize he has toppled Ronnie O'Sullivan as snooker's number one ranked player.

The run began at last season's China Open where he was runner-up, before he went on to reach at least the semi-finals of the next five consecutive ranking tournaments, winning the world title and Welsh Open along the way.

The man from Wishaw, North Lanarkshire, turned professional in 1992 and won his first tournament in 1994 when he picked up the Grand Prix trophy. The success continued and a year later, he won the International Open, British Open and German Open.

Steve Davis

Davis beats Higgins after thrilling frame

Higgins first became the world's number one ranked player in 1998 when he defeated defending champion Ken Doherty to win the World Championship for the first time and soon became the UK and Masters champion.

He lost to O'Sullivan 18-12 in the Crucible final of 2001 and had to wait another six years before reaching snooker's most prestigious contest again, this time beating Mark Selby 18-13 to take the trophy for a second time and regain the number one status.

He pinpointed a more disciplined approach for his re-emergence at the highest level, having given up alcohol in his preparation.

One of the rare occasions Higgins has previously been the subject of negative headlines occurred the year before when he was escorted off a plane for being drunk after a tournament in Malta.

But his achievements in snooker were recognised in the New Years Honours list in 2008 when he was awarded the MBE.

In the same year he also captured the Grand Prix for the fourth time in Glasgow with a dramatic win over Welshman Ryan Day - the first time he had won a ranking tournament on Scottish soil.

Asked what motivated him to achieve more success in snooker, Higgins said: "I suppose it is vanity."

Snooker has declined in popularity of late with a drop in sponsorship producing less tournaments for the game's elite.

Higgins has championed the sport's cause around the world by setting up the World Series of Snooker with his manager Pat Mooney in 2008, featuring some of the game's top stars and emerging talent.

Tournaments were hosted in European cities such as Berlin, Moscow, Warsaw and Prague in an attempt to broaden the game's appeal.

Helping to promote the current World Championship alongside new snooker chief Barry Hearn in April, Higgins said: "Snooker has a buzz about it which we have not had for a long time and hopefully we can get more people involved in the game."

Unwittingly perhaps, Higgins' actions away from the table now threaten to undermine the fabric of a sport which he has done so much to invigorate.



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see also
Higgins pledges to clear his name
03 May 10 |  Snooker
Legend Davis pips Higgins in epic
24 Apr 10 |  Snooker
Higgins earns third world crown
04 May 09 |  Snooker


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