Englishman Thorne dies aged 66 after leukaemia diagnosis

FILE PHOTO: Willie Thorne in action at World Masters Championship, 1993
FILE PHOTO: Willie Thorne in action at World Masters Championship, 1993

(Reuters) - English former professional snooker player Willie Thorne has died aged 66 after suffering respiratory failure while being treated for leukaemia in Spain, his carer said on Wednesday.

Thorne, a popular player who won one ranking title during his career and was also known in Britain as a snooker commentator, was put into an induced coma on Tuesday.

"It is with a very heavy and broken heart that I have to officially announce that at 1.55 am this morning Willie Thorne lost his battle and passed away," his carer Julie O'Neill wrote on his fundraising page.

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"Willie went into septic shock and was not responding to any treatment... He passed away very peacefully and without pain listening to his children saying they love him."

Thorne, who turned professional in 1975, reached the World Snooker Championship quarter-finals in 1982 and 1986, had been diagnosed with leukaemia in March and developed sepsis throughout his body last month.

World Snooker said Thorne's gregarious nature had made him "one of the snooker-loving public's favourite characters as the sport thrived."

Former England soccer international Gary Lineker, a close friend of Thorne and himself a talented amateur snooker player, tweeted: "A lovely man, who's potted his final black much too soon. RIP Willie."

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; editing by John Stonestreet)

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