Belfast Telegraph

Alex Higgins was an inspiration, says Ken Doherty

Alex Higgins will always remain an inspiration to the next generation of snooker players looking to emulate the ‘Hurricane' and reach the very top of the game.

Higgins — world champion in 1972 and 1982 — died on Saturday after a long battle with throat cancer in Belfast, aged 61.

However, the images of the Ulsterman at his flamboyant best remain as colourful now as they did when first broadcast.

Irishman Ken Doherty, 40, who was world champion in 1997, paid tribute to the influence of Higgins.

“He certainly was an inspiration to me,” Doherty said.

“Nobody could emulate what he did. He was such a once-off.

“He was so charismatic, unpredictable, the way he played the game, his character himself, he was just a genius.”

Scottish player John Higgins, 35, also followed in the footsteps of his namesake, winning the world title in 1998, 2007 and 2009.

“As a youngster it was the magical play of players like Hurricane Higgins that inspired me and many of my generation to fall in love with snooker,” said John Higgins, the world number one who was suspended by World Snooker in May 2010 following allegations of match-fixing, which the player denies.

“During one tournament I remember my father and Hurricane sitting in our hotel talking about snooker into the early hours.

“The next morning the concierge knocked on my door with a present from Hurricane; it was a beautiful blue snooker suit made by a top Irish tailor. It was a lovely gesture that meant so much to me and my dad.

“This will be a sad time for Hurricane's close family and friends and also sad for the wider snooker community.

“When people write about the history of snooker they will have to devote many pages to the skills of Hurricane Higgins.”

Some £10,000 raised to help Higgins receive medical treatment prior to his death will go towards his funeral, which will be delayed to allow friend and former player Jimmy White to return from Thailand to attend.

Belfast Telegraph

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