Stars of snooker – Past and present

There have been many outstanding players in the sport of snooker, many names are instantly recognisable and to include them all in this article would involve writing a book. This article lists many notable players from the past and present and gives an insight to their background and their achievements in the sport.

Joe Davis

Joe Davis has always been credited with making this sport so popular and he was also the first ever world champion, a title he held on to for many years. Himself and his brother Fred Davis were a major influence with Joe reaching higher results as Fred was always drawn back to billiards where he excelled.

Joe Davis was born on 15th April 1901 in Derbyshire namely Chesterfield in the UK. He became a professional billiards player when he was 18 years of age and won the billiards world championship on 4 occasions. His first snooker world championship win was in 1927 and he held the title right up to 1940. With the onset of WWII, the championships were not played for 5 years but once resumed in 1946 he again took the title. No other snooker player has won this title as many times as Joe Davis and he retired as champion.

He promoted the sport afterwards with exhibition tours and other lower championships but unfortunately passed away on the 10th July 1978 aged 77.

Stephen Hendry

Stephen Hendry was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on 13th January 1969 and in 1985 became the youngest professional snooker player at the grand age of 16. He has been regarded as one of the greatest players of snooker winning his first world championship at the age of 21 in 1990. He has regained this title 7 times which is not an easy task in the modern game with many new players joining the circuit.

He has also held the record major title wins over his playing years with a grand total of 36 victories.

Between 1990 and 1998 he had the distinction of being the world’s no.1 player and this was repeated between 2006 to 2007. In 1994 he was awarded the MBE and in the UK he was voted Scottish sports personality of the year on two occasions.

He retired as a professional player in 2012 but he is still often seen on the TV commentating on major tournaments.

Only Steve Davis has won more professional titles than Stephen Hendry.

Ronald Antonio “Ronnie” O’Sullivan

Ronnie O’Sullivan was born 5 December 1975 and is an English professional snooker player from Chigwell, Essex, known for his rapid playing style.
He is seen by many observers of the game as the greatest natural talent in snooker history.

He made his first century break at age 10 and his first maximum break at age 15. He turned professional in 1992, at the age of 16, and soon earned the nickname “The Rocket”.

He won the 1993 UK Championship at the age of 17 years and 358 days, becoming the youngest player ever to win a professional ranking tournament, a record he still holds. He is also the youngest player ever to have won the Masters, having captured his first title in 1995 at the age of 19 years and 69 days.

O’Sullivan’s record in Triple Crown events stands at five World Championship, five Masters, and five UK Championship titles. He is fourth behind Stephen Hendry, Ray Reardon, and Steve Davis on the list of players who have won the most World Championships in the modern era. He is third on the list of players who have won the most ranking titles, with 27.

With career earnings of over £8 million, he is second after Hendry on snooker’s all-time prize-money list. He was ranked world number one for five seasons between 2002/2003 and 2009/2010. His other achievements include ten Premier League titles and winning the Nations Cup with England in 2000. Known as a prolific break-builder, O’Sullivan is second behind Hendry on the list of players making the most competitive century breaks, with a total of 770.

He holds the record for the most ratified maximum breaks in professional competition, with 13. At the 1997 World Championship, he set the record for the fastest competitive maximum break at 5 minutes 20 seconds.

Steve Davis

Steve Davis is fondly regarded as one of the greatest snooker players of the modern era. He dominated the sport during the 1980’s and in later years became a popular commentator and analyst of the game for televised events.

He was born in London, UK on 22nd August 1957 and at the age of 12 was introduced to snooker by his father who would take him to the working men’s clubs on a regular basis. He admits that Joe Davis was a big influence on his style of play as his father gave him the book that Joe released which acted as a tutor to the game. Incidentally Steve Davis is no relation to Joe Davis.

During the 1980’ he won the world championship a total of 6 times and was ranked as world no.1 between 1983-1984, also between 1989-1990.

Due to his slow style of play he was often described a boring player to watch but his play was immaculate with every shot calculated out thoughtfully.

He retired in 2016 shortly after the death of his father but during his playing years he earned several nicknames including “ginger magician” and “nugget”. Since his retirement he has started playing in many pool tournaments and has even appeared on televised poker tournaments.

In 1988 he was awarded the MBE and in 2001 he was awarded the OBE.

Jimmy “Whirlwind” White

Jimmy White very quickly became a popular snooker player with the public when he became a professional player due to his fast style of play and general personality. He was born on 2nd May 1962 in Tooting, UK and at the age of 18 became the world amateur snooker champion.

Sadly he never achieved becoming a world champion in the professional circuit but was losing finalist on 6 occasions.

As a youngster he readily admits that he was not a scholar, indeed he often skipped school to spend time in the snooker halls. He was very successful as an amateur and would even play around the circuits with such players as Tony Meo.

He is the only left handed snooker player to have achieved a maximum break in the world championships but sadly he has slipped down the rankings since 2000, at one stage he was ranked no.2 but is now currently ranked in the 50’s. He was also known as “the people’s champion” showing just how popular he was in his hey day.

Like Steve Davis, Jimmy White is also an accomplished poker player and he also plays the pool tournaments.

Alex Higgins

Any list of notable players has to include Alex Higgins who was well renowned for his wild lifestyle as well as his skills on the snooker table. Alex Higgins was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland on 18th March 1949 and started playing the game of snooker when he was 11 years of age. He originally moved to England to train as a jockey but due to having problems controlling his weight he returned to Northern Ireland and became snooker champion of All Ireland and Northern Ireland in 1968.

He turned professional at the age of 22, he won his first ever world championship at the first attempt in 1972. This made him the youngest ever champion at the time. He became world champion again in 1982.

His fast style of play earned him the nickname of “Hurricane” and he was very popular with the public. Unfortunately he did have an alcohol addiction and was using cocaine which often landed him in trouble with the snooker authorities as did some of his behaviour on the professional circuits.

He was diagnosed with throat cancer in his later life but he overcame this, sadly he was discovered dead in his flat on 24th July 2010. Great players such as Jimmy White and Ronnie O’Sullivan have stated that Alex inspired them with his style of play and played a great part in developing their own game.