Sheffield (England): Stephen Hendry, widely recognised as the greatest ever snooker player, has announced his retirement from his glittering professional career.
The seven-time world champion made the announcement at a press conference after a 13-2 defeat to Stephen Maguire in the quarterfinals of the World Championship at the Crucible Theatre Tuesday.
"I made the decision about three months ago, I didn`t tell many people. I only told two or three people but this is me finished in tournament snooker," said the 43-year-old Scott.
"It was quite an easy decision, there`re a few reasons which I`m not going to go into in detail and bore you with. The schedule didn`t help, the fact that I`m not playing the snooker I want to play doesn`t help, the fact I don`t enjoy practice doesn`t help," said Hendry.
The most crowned snooker player said that nothing happening at the ongoing championship could have possibly changed his mind.
"If I`d have won this event, it would have been an even better way to go out," said Hendry.
The veteran hit a sensational start to the championship with a 147 maximum break on the opening day on April 21, which was the 11th of his career, matching Ronnie O`Sullivan`s record.
"I`m delighted that I`ve made a maximum here, that`s why I was more animated than normal when making it, I was delighted to do it on my last appearance here," Hendry said.
The championship, the yearly biggest tournament of a snooker season, has been staged at the Crucible theatre since 1977.
Many fans, who followed Hendry 20 years ago, have now became middle-aged or old, but still supported the legend in the same theatre.
"My best memories are my first win here, the seventh world title, the maximum, being the youngest ever world champion, no one`s beaten that yet, I could write a book on the memories I`ve had here," said Hendry.
"I`m not really emotional, you know what I`ve been like over the years, I`ve not been the most emotional of people even when I win. It`s sad that I won`t play here again because I love playing here, but it`s a relief as much as anything. I haven`t got a lot of things to regret in my career," he said.
Hendry, who just arrived back from a return trip to the remote Chinese city of Changchun one day before his first match, said he had many other things to do in China, one of the biggest markets for the world`s snooker.
"I`ve got a lot of commitments now in China which I`ve signed up for and I can`t do both, I can`t do that and play snooker because I would never be at home, so the time is right for me," he said.
Since turning professional in 1985, Hendry made his debut at the Crucible in 1986 and this was his 27th consecutive appearance.
The "World Snooker" paid a handsome tribute to him.
"Over a quarter of a century he has established himself as the greatest of all time, winning the most world titles, the most ranking events, making the most centuries and earning the most prize money."
Hendry has also influenced a generation of snooker players and is admired in every corner of the globe where the green baize game is played.
"He has been an outstanding professional and the greatest competitor our sport has ever seen. He has brought joy to many millions of fans around the world with his style of play, determination and sportsmanship," said Jason Ferguson, chairman of World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA).
"He has been a great role model for young players coming into the game and so many people connected with the sport have benefited from his legacy. I am certain he will continue to be a great ambassador for many years," said Jason.
Quarterfinals results (Best of 25 frames):
Stephen Maguire (Scotland) beat Stephen Hendry (Scotland) 13-2; Allister Carter (England) leads Jamie Jones (Wales) 5-3; Neil Robertson (Australia) leads Ronnie O`Sullivan (England) 5-3; Matthew Stevens (Wales) leads Ryan Day (Wales) 11-5.