Daily Mail


I’ve missed the buzz, says King of Cru­cible

- By HEC­TOR NUNNS Sports · Sheffield · Championship · Ronnie O'Sullivan

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.’

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