Fellow snooker star Joe Swail, a Belfast boy himself, made the suggestion in the wake of his sporting idol’s death last week, amid a raft of other ideas for a fitting tribute to the tragic genius.
Former World Champion Ken Doherty agreed with Swail, saying that while a statue outside the Crucible in Sheffield where Higgins achieved his greatest success would be a fitting tribute, Belfast is where the Hurricane’s heart really lay.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph from Hong Kong, where he is currently playing exhibition matches, Dublin-born Doherty said: “I think if there is going to be a statue anywhere it should be in Belfast because while he may have won world titles in Sheffield, he was a Belfast boy at heart.
“It’s where he grew up and where he moved back to. He loved the people and the people loved him too.
“Alex Higgins was and is the reason why I and thousands of other kids got into snooker and why millions of people all over the world started watching it.”.
Swail, who hailed Higgins as his idol, said Belfast should host a permanent reminder to one of Northern Ireland’s greatest ever sportsmen. “Alex represented Northern Ireland for 30 or 40 years so it would strike me that the capital should have some kind of memorial maybe in the form of a statue outside the City Hall,” he said.
Up-and-coming local player Mark Allen said Higgins should be remembered in the same vein as another local sporting legend.
“George Best got a great send-off whenever he died and I think Alex deserves something similar,” said the 24-year-old.
“There are calls for a statue outside the Crucible Theatre. That was where he played his last match in April and I think it would be appropriate as that is where he will always be remembered for his magic on the table”.
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