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Page last updated at 20:13 GMT, Saturday, 24 July 2010 21:13 UK

Tributes paid to snooker legend Alex Higgins

Alex Higgins
During his prime, Higgins was one of the stars of the sport

Tributes have been paid to former world snooker champion Alex Higgins, who died on Saturday aged 61 after a long battle against throat cancer.

The Belfast man had long-term problems with alcohol and smoking since winning the world title in 1972 and 1982.

But he still remained one of the most iconic figures in the sport.

Some of those who knew him best remember the man known as the "Hurricane".


"There was just something about the way that he played the game. There was a little bit of [John] McEnroe in there. There was always going to be a little bit of controversy.

"If he could get the referee going a little bit he seemed to be able to play better, if he caused a little bit of havoc sometimes.

"But that was Alex. That made him unique and I don't think you'll ever, ever see a player in the game of snooker like the great Alex Higgins."


"To people in the game he was a constant source of argument, he was a rebel. But to the wider public he was a breath of fresh air that drew them in to the game.

"He was an inspiration to my generation to take the game up. I do not think his contribution to snooker can be underestimated.

"He was quite a fierce competitor, he lived and breathed the game, very much a fighter on the table."


"Alex Higgins was one of the real inspirations behind me getting into snooker in the first place.

"He is a legend of snooker, and should forever be remembered as the finest ever snooker player."


"We just remember the games when he played, everybody wanted to watch, he was exciting, nobody knew what would happen, it was dangerous. It's a sad loss.

"They say every genius is bordering on mad and Alex was certainly that. You never knew if he would jump into the crowd or hit the referee or walk out or what he would do.

"But he was also a fantastic cue man and played some great stuff. He created shots that everybody now copies.

"To have only won the world title twice didn't do justice to his talent. He could have won it many more times."


"He was a very strange and complex character. You never really knew what you were going to get with him.

"The players, even the ones who were for many years at loggerheads with him over certain things, will still be sad to see him go because they realise what a debt they owe to him for the sport.

"There's never been anyone who's tried harder on a snooker table and there was never anyone who tried harder to beat throat cancer."


"When he came on the scene, he was the major element in transforming snooker from a widely played folk sport into a major crowd and television attraction."


"Alex was a fabulous player and played shots which had not even been thought of at the time - people gasped.

"He helped to take the game from the working-class background of mis-spent youths into more global entertainment during his period.

"But Alex rewrote the book on mis-spent adulthood.

"He was a dreadful gambler and I cannot remember him winning one bet - he would go through his pockets and bet every single penny, and the evening would always finish with him asking 'could you not lend me £50 for my train fare home?', and you would obviously never see that again."


"Alex Higgins was a colourful character and one of the most popular players of his generation.

"He will be greatly missed by snooker fans and the wider sporting public.

"Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time."


"I am sorry to learn of the death of Alex Higgins.

"He was a legend in the game of snooker and one of Ulster's great sportsmen.

"His style of play reshaped how snooker was played and his talent captivated snooker fans around the world.

"Alex Higgins brought pleasure to millions of people and he will be long remembered."

HIGGINS ON HIGGINS (speaking earlier this year)

"I think I was the most natural, charismatic player who ever lifted a cue.

"I think my presence around the table was mesmerising at times. It captured people.

"I'm not saying this to bolster my own ego. It's what people tell me. People stop me in the street every day and say 'when you coming back Alex, when you going to show these so-and-sos who claim to be snooker players how to play the game?'

"I say I'm not healthy enough as yet. But I'd love to."

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see also
Remembering the Hurricane
25 Jul 10 |  Snooker
Snooker star Higgins dies aged 61
24 Jul 10 |  Snooker
Obituary: Alex Higgins
24 Jul 10 |  Snooker
Alex Higgins: A life in pictures
24 Jul 10 |  Northern Ireland
Alex Higgins makes bribery claim
09 May 10 |  Snooker
Snooker goes back to the future
19 Apr 10 |  Snooker
Higgins goes back to his roots
09 May 09 |  Snooker
Alex Higgins interview
06 Jun 07 |  Snooker
An evening with Alex Higgins
28 Apr 04 |  Funny Old Game
Alex Higgins 'almost stopped breathing'
16 Apr 00 |  Northern Ireland
Snooker on the BBC
08 Apr 11 |  Snooker

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