Snooker legend Willie Thorne has died, aged 66

17 June 2020, 09:32 | Updated: 17 June 2020, 12:48

Willie Thorne
Willie Thorne. Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

Snooker player Willie Thorne has died in hospital in Spain, after being placed in an induced coma earlier this week.

The 66-year-old announced he had leukaemia in March, and was taken to hospital last week with low blood pressure.

A GoFundMe page was set up to help pay for his treatment, and had raised over £19,000.

In a statement, Thorne's carer Julie O'Neill sadly revealed "with a very heavy and broken heart" that he died in the early hours this morning (June 17).

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

She added that the commentator died peacefully, "listening to his children saying they love him".

Willie Thorne
Willie Thorne. Picture: Getty

She also thanked supporters who had donated for his care, and that the money would now help pay for his funeral.

Willie Thorne won the 1985 Classic tournament, and lost 16–14 to Steve Davis in the final of the 1985 UK Championship.

After retiring as a player, he also became a popular snooker commentator.

He was immortalised in the Chas & Dave song 'Snooker Loopy', in the line "Willie Thorne, he's hair's all gone."

Tributes have poured in from the snooker world, with Ronnie O'Sullivan saying: "Just want to say what a beautiful man, big heart, great company. Had a week in Ireland with him I'll never forget. Will be missed by a lot of people in the Snooker world. RIP WT."

Former world champion Dennis Taylor, and a long-time colleague of Thorne in the commentary box, said they had "laughed our way around the world for 45 years", adding "RIP Great One. That was my name for him. The Great WT. Lots of love to his family."

Six-time world champion Steve Davis said: "I hope you had a lovely time on the planet, Willie, and any regrets were overshadowed by the fun and games you had and the smiles you put on other people's faces."

Seven-time champion Stephen Hendry wrote: "Very sad news today, Willie was one of my favourite people in snooker. I know he had faults and weaknesses (we all do) but he was one of the game's greatest ever characters, I'll miss him."