Stephen Hendry retires after World Snooker Championship defeat

Tribute to Stephen Hendry

Seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry has announced his retirement from snooker after a heavy 13-2 defeat by Stephen Maguire at the Crucible.

The 43-year-old, who looked out of sorts against Maguire in a one-sided World Championship quarter-final, said he made the decision three months ago.

He said: "There's a few reasons - the schedule, the fact I'm not playing the snooker I want to play, and the fact I'm not enjoying practice.

"It was quite an easy decision."

He added: "I didn't tell many people [before the tournament], but this is me finished from tournament snooker."

Asked whether he would have changed his mind if he had won the tournament, Hendry replied: "No not at all. If I had won, it would have been a better way to go out.

"I was delighted to have made a maximum here [against Stuart Bingham in the first round] which is why I was more animated when I achieved it. I was delighted to do it on my last appearance.

"I've had so many memories here; my first time here, my first win, obviously my seventh world title. I could write a book about the memories that I had here.

Enough is enough - Hendry

"It's a sad day that I won't play here [at the Crucible] again, I love playing here but it's a relief as much as anything.

"I want to do other things now. I've got a lot of commitments now in China, which I've signed up for and I can't do that and play snooker because I would never be at home."

Hendry, who was making his 27th consecutive appearance at the World Championship, looked back to his fluent best as he hit his third Crucible maximum - a record he shares with Ronnie O'Sullivan - in his first round victory over Bingham.

He went on to beat defending champion Higgins 13-4 which prompted him to declare that he could win a record eighth world title.

But Hendry made a flurry of mistakes against Maguire, which his opponent ruthlessly punished to win the last-eight tie with a session to spare.

Jimmy White, who was beaten by Stephen Hendry in four World Championship finals, tweeted:external-link "He was and is an unbelievable snooker player & has nothing to prove. I hope he enjoys his retirement, he really deserves it.

"He's always put snooker first, been a model professional, a credit to the game and I'll see him in the legends tour this year for more battles.

"I thank him sincerely for some of the best matches and memories of my own career. I'm not sure his records will ever be equalled."

Chairman of World Snooker Barry Hearn told BBC Radio 5 live: "There's no question he's the finest player ever to pick up a snooker cue. He always had the extra gear of focus. He got a maximum recently, showing there's life in the old dog still.

"This announcement has come as a little bit of a shock. He will be missed. I don't think he's made the right decision to bow out.

"But he was a phenomenal player and a really nice bloke. When you watch someone like Hendry in action, it's an art form."

Former world champion Terry Griffiths, who once coached Hendry, added: "I thought he should have retired a while ago but he had the belief that he could continue.

"He was blessed with a skill. His will and desire to win was frightening.

"Everybody says they want to win, but Stephen Hendry wanted to win even more."

Maguire added: "I'm shocked, I wasn't expecting that but Stephen has obvioulsy thought long and hard about it.

"I'm just pretty sad that he's retired. I think he's retired too early but Stephen knows best."

Hendry became the youngest-ever world champion, aged 21 in 1990, before adding six more in the next nine years.

He held the world number one ranking for eight consecutive years between 1990 and 1998 and then again briefly in 2006 and 2007.

Hendry, who lost to Willie Thorne on his World Championship debut in 1986, holds the record for the most world ranking titles (36) and the most competitive century breaks (775)

He also shares the record of most competitive maximum breaks with Ronnie O'Sullivan at 11.

After dominating the 1990s, Hendry's form started to tail off and he reached just one World Championship final in the next decade.

His last ranking tournament final was in the 2006 UK Championship where he lost to Peter Ebdon.

Hendry honoured at Crucible