Belfast: Former World Snooker champion Alex Higgins has passed away after losing a long battle with throat cancer.
The two-time world champion, who was 61-year-old, was found dead by his carers in his flat at his native place here yesterday.
The flamboyant cueist had been suffering from cancer for 12 years and his weight plummeted recently because of a teeth problem, which prevented him from consuming solid food.
Although his friends had raised 20,000 pound so that he could have new teeth fitted, but he was too frail to have a surgery.
"He was the major reason for snooker`s popularity in the early days. He was controversial at times, but he always played the game in the right spirit. We will miss him, he was the original people`s champion," said World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn.
Born in 1949, Higgins started playing snooker at the age of 11 in the Jampot Club here. His rapid and attacking style of play had earned him the nickname `The Hurricane`.
After turning a professional at the age of 22, he won the World Championship title at his first attempt in 1972, beating John Spencer 37-31 in the final.
In 1982, he won his second world title -- the gap of 10 years between his first and second crown remains a record. He was also the World runner-up in 1976 and 1980 and won the Masters in 1978 and 1981.
Higgins captured the imagination of the snooker public as his personality and playing style were dramatic departure from the traditional image of a professional cueist.