Tributes paid to snooker great Willie Thorne who has died aged 66

Wednesday, 17th June 2020, 11:52 am
Updated Wednesday, 17th June 2020, 12:03 pm
Willie Thorne competing in the Masters at Wembley Conference Centre in 1986. Photo by Trevor Jones/Getty Images

The world of snooker has paid tribute to Willie Thorne, who has died at the age of 66 after a short battle with illness.

Thorne was diagnosed with leukaemia earlier this year and was taken to hospital in Spain last week with dangerously low blood pressure.

He had been placed into an induced coma over the weekend after suffering respiratory failure

Writing on Thorne’s GoFundMe page, his carer, Julie O'Neill, announced the news: “It is with a very heavy and broken heart that I have to officially announce that at 1.55am this morning Willie Thorne lost his battle and passed away.”

Her message continued: "Willie went into septic shock and was not responding to any treatment so the decision was made by the hospital to turn off the machines

"I was with him all the way to his end and reading out messages to him from people.

"He passed away very peacefully and without pain listening to his children saying they love him. That gives me some comfort in this difficult time."

Thorne retired from professional snooker in 2001, having reached two World Championship quarter-finals and won his only ranking title, the Mercantile Credit Classic, in 1982.

He went on to be a commentator on the sport for the BBC, and appeared on the fifth series of Strictly Come Dancing.

Tributes to 'Mr Maximum'

World Snooker responded by tweeting: “We are deeply saddened to hear that the Great WT himself, Willie Thorne, has passed away at the age of 66. It’s a great loss to our sport. Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time. RIP Willie.”

World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn said: “I had the pleasure of managing the Great WT as part of the Matchroom team in the 1980s. He was a larger than life personality and he was a major part of the rebirth of snooker at that time. It’s so sad to hear he has passed away and our thoughts are with his family.”

Thorne’s friend Gary Lineker was among the first to pay tribute, tweeting that he was “deeply, deeply saddened”.

Snooker star Ronnie O'Sullivan tweeted that he was "a beautiful man, big heart great company".

Other current and former stars of snooker to pay tribute to Thorne included Jimmy White, Dennis Taylor, Marco Fu and Neil Robertson.