Members of the snooker world and beyond have been paying their tributes to former player Willie Thorne, who died on Wednesday morning.
The 66-year-old was placed in a coma during a short battle with leukaemia.
A message on Thorne’s GoFundMe page read: “It is with a very heavy and broken heart that I have to officially announce that at 1.55am this morning Willie Thorne lost his battle and passed away.”
Written by his carer Julie O’Neill, it continued: “Willie went into septic shock and was not responding to any treatment so the decision was made by the hospital to turn off the machines.
“I was with him all the way to his end and reading out messages to him from people.
“He passed away very peacefully and without pain listening to his children saying they love him – that gives me some comfort in this difficult time.”
Match Of The Day presenter and friend Gary Lineker was one of the first to pay tribute, calling Thorne “one of life’s great characters. A marvellous snooker player and a lovely man.”
Deeply, deeply saddened to hear that my friend Willie Thorne has passed away. One of life’s great characters. A marvellous snooker player and a lovely man, who’s potted his final black much too soon. RIP Willie.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 17, 2020
World Snooker said: “We are deeply saddened to hear that the Great WT himself, Willie Thorne, has passed away at the age of 66. It’s a great loss to our sport. Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time. RIP Willie.”
Thorne, who went by the nickname “Mr Maximum” due to the number of times he recorded 147 breaks (snooker’s maximum possible score in a frame), spent 20 years as one of the top 32 players in the world before retiring and becoming a successful commentator.
Former world champions Stephen Hendry, Neil Robertson and Dennis Taylor also shared their tributes, as did Leicester City, Thorne’s hometown team.
Devestating news about Willie Thorne. We laughed our way around the world for 45 years.
RIP Great One. That was my name for him. The Great WT.
Lots of love to his family
— Dennis Taylor (@dennistaylor147) June 17, 2020
So sad to hear about the passing of Willie Thorne last night. One of the games great characters and will be missed greatly😢 RIP
— Neil Robertson🌱 (@nr147) June 17, 2020
Very sad news today,Willie was one of my favourite people in snooker.
I know he had faults and weaknesses(we all do) but he was one of the games greatest ever characters,I’ll miss him ☹️
— stephen hendry (@SHendry775) June 17, 2020
To wake to the news of the death of Willie Thorne today is simply terrible. I spent many many hours with him. He was a charming man, great company, a brilliant player and commentator and , of course, always immaculately turned out. He has gone far too soon.
— Jeff Stelling (@JeffStelling) June 17, 2020