SENSATIONAL RETURN FOR HENDRY AT 51
I’ve missed the buzz, says King of Crucible
Stephen hendry is making an amazing return to toplevel snooker after eight years in retirement.
the 51-year-old is still the King of the Crucible having claimed a record seven world titles at the Sheffield venue.
the Scot enjoyed a decade of near total dominance in the 1990s before packing away his cue in 2012 after his form and motivation ebbed away.
But working with sighting and alignment coaching guru Stephen Feeney saw hendry produce his best displays for years at the recent World Seniors. that persuaded him to take advantage of the offer of a two-year invitational wildcard from World Snooker tour to rejoin the pro ranks.
the season starts on Sunday week, but with the Championship League draw already made, the first event for which hendry is eligible is the european Masters a week later. that, like all of the first eight tournaments on the calendar, will take place in Milton Keynes. hendry has long been considered the greatest player in the history of the game, though that debate has been rekindled this summer. Ronnie O’Sullivan, 44, and hendry’s chief rival for that tag, has taken many of the records set by the Scot and moved to within one of his world title haul by winning a sixth crown last month. hendry (left) said: ‘I’m excited to have the opportunity to enter some tournaments over the coming two seasons. I’ve enjoyed picking up my cue again at the Wor l d Seniors and after some SightRight coaching with Steve Feeney I feel more confident in my game.
‘I’ve missed the buzz of competing and, although I have no expectations in terms of performance, this felt like a good time to explore getting back to the table.’
WSt chairman Barry hearn said: ‘ I am thrilled that Stephen has decided to return. he is a giant of the sport and I know that all eyes will be on him every time he takes to the table.
‘It’s great to know that Stephen’s competitive fires are still burning and given his achievements it was a no-brainer to offer him the opportunity to come back.’
O’Sullivan was influenced by hendry as a teenager and remains his biggest admirer. he said: ‘If I’m not the greatest player to have played the game, there’s only one other who can claim that mantle — Stephen hendry.’