Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

Stephen Hendry: More snooker stars should have been at Alex Higgins' funeral

Alex Higgins
Alex Higgins
A young Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins
Alex Higgins
Alex Higgins continues to make headlines after his death
John Virgo and Alex Higgins
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 into the game.
Steve Davis pays tribute to former world snooker champion Alex Higgins.
Ken Doherty with fans pay their respects at Alex Higgins funeral
Mourners at the funeral of Alex Higgins
Sean Murphy at Snooker Legend Alex Higgins Funeral at St. Annes Cathedral Belfast
Great Niece Alex Mitchell pictured at Snooker Legend Alex Higgins Funeral
Mourners leave St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast, after the funeral service of Alex Higgins
Jimmy White carries the coffin of Alex Higgins down Belfast's Donegal Road to St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast
John Virgo attends the funeral of Former Snooker World Champion Alex Higgins
Coronation Street actor Ryan Thomas attends the funeral of Former Snooker World Champion Alex Higgins
Pacemaker Press 2/8/10 Jimmy White and Steven Henry attend the funeral of Former Snooker World Champion Alex Higgins as his coffin leaves the Donegal Road for his Funeral at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast , Alex died after suffering from cancer Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
The funeral of Alex Higgins. St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast. August 2010
The funeral of Alex Higgins. St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast. August 2010
The funeral of Alex Higgins. St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast. August 2010
The funeral of Alex Higgins. St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast. August 2010
The funeral of Alex Higgins. St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast. August 2010
The funeral of Alex higgins. St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast. August 2010
Alex Higgins' coffin arrives at St. Anne's Cathedral, Belfast
Ken Doherty at the funeral of snooker legend Alex Higgins. Belfast. August 2010
The funeral of snooker legend Alex Higgins. Belfast. August 2010
The funeral of snooker legend Alex Higgins. Belfast. August 2010
The funeral of snooker legend Alex Higgins. Belfast. August 2010
Loyalist Jackie McDonald at the funeral of snooker legend Alex Higgins. Belfast. August 2010
The funeral of snooker legend Alex Higgins. Belfast. August 2010
The funeral cortege of snooker legend Alex Higgins makes its way down the Donegall Road in south Belfast. August 2010
The funeral cortege of snooker legend Alex Higgins makes its way down the Donegall Road in south Belfast.
People read floral tributes left for Alex Higgins on Belfast's Donegal Road
The cortege of snooker legend Alex Higgins makes a poignant journey through the centre of Belfast on its way to St Anne's Cathedral. August 2010
The cortege of snooker legend Alex Higgins makes a poignant journey through the centre of Belfast on its way to St Anne's Cathedral. August 2010
The cortege of snooker legend Alex Higgins makes a poignant journey through the centre of Belfast on its way to St Anne's Cathedral. August 2010
Tommy McCaughran with Alex Higgins, George Best and Alex's father
Alex Higgins, George Best , Jackie Charlton and Denis Taylor
Tribute and Flowers left at the sister of snooker legend Alex Higgins, house in Iverna Close in Belfast ahead of his funeral
Alex Higgins in his 1985 heyday at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield
The nearly man: Alex Higgins consoles Ivan Little (centre) after losing the frame as his Belfast Telegraph colleagues, Laurence White and snooker correspondent, Ronnie Harper, look on

Stephen Hendry has revealed details about the "strange relationship" that he had with snooker legend Alex Higgins.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, seven-time world champion Hendry talked about the ups and downs he encountered with the controversial sporting hero from Belfast.

In an open and honest interview, Hendry added that he was disappointed at other snooker players for not showing up and paying their respects at the funeral of Higgins three years ago.

The Hurricane's colourful career, which included two world titles, several other ranking tournament victories, breathtaking breaks and a host of run-ins with snooker officialdom, was coming to a turbulent end when a new sensation in the shape of Scottish genius Hendry blew into town.

Higgins looked after Hendry the kid in the 80s. The Scot went as far to say that the Ulsterman was like a mentor to him during his early days on the circuit, but then things began to change when the boy became a man.

"I had a strange relationship with Alex," admitted Hendry.

"When I first turned professional at 16, he was fantastic to me. He was like a mentor to me back then.

"In the first two or three seasons he was always looking to practise with me at the different venues and he was always telling me little things here and there to help me with my game. It was great.

"But then, when I started to become really successful and climb up the rankings, he began to distance himself away from me and I started to hear about little comments he had made about me behind my back."

Their friendship may have broken down but Hendry, a student of the game, never lost respect for what Higgins had given to snooker in terms of profile, popularity and earning power for top players.

Hendry, who retired from the sport last year, felt sad at the Hurricane's funeral that some of the modern day players did not feel the same way.

"Everyone knows that Alex was a Jekyll and Hyde character but there is no doubt about it whatsoever, snooker would not be where it is without him," said Hendry.

"And that was one of the reasons I came to Belfast for the funeral. I think it was only right for me as a snooker player to be there and pay my respects to Alex, one of the legends of the game.

"I realised what Alex had done for our game and I felt it was important to be there. I was actually disappointed with the low turnout of top snooker players at the funeral. I think a lot of them don't appreciate how good he was and what he did for our sport.

"Obviously I spent time with him and didn't get on well with him at all times, like everyone else. Even Jimmy White has said that Alex got on his nerves some of the time but it was important that day to recognise how much he did for snooker."

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