SNOOKER LEGEND Willie Thorne has sadly passed away, aged 66, following a short battle with leukaemia.
Thorne was placed in an induced coma at Torrevieja Hospital in Spain on Sunday, after suffering respiratory failure but died in early hours of Wednesday morning.
The former world no.7’s death comes just three months after he was diagnosed with leukaemia.
Thorne had been suffering with several health issues in the months since and was undergoing chemotherapy in Alicante prior to his passing.
Following his initial diagnosis in March, he had to undergo three blood transfusions as well as an MRI scan and checks on his heart.
He was admitted to hospital following an alarming drop in blood pressure.
Doctors opted to place him in an induced coma but despite being on a ventilator, he sadly slipped away.
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
Thorne’s friend and carer, Julie O'Neil, confirmed the news
"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!” she wrote on a GoFundMe page set up for Thorne.
"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.
"Over here in Spain everything happens very quickly so today myself and his family will he making plans and will inform you accordingly!
Exactly 5 years to the day my great buddy of nearly 50 years and me on Antiques Rd trip. Love you The Great WT pic.twitter.com/v8OfEHByxD
— Dennis Taylor (@dennistaylor147) June 16, 2020
"It disappoints me some what that people were tweeting he has passed away when he was still holding on and with us!
"I guess that’s celebrity life....
"Thank you so very much to everyone that has been involved in Willies care you have all been absolutely amazing and Willie couldn’t have asked for better
"Thank you for all the donations that enabled him to get the care he needed!
"This will now pay for his funeral.
"Thank you for all the well wishes and beautiful messages of support xxx."
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
A popular and distinctive figure on the professional snooker circuit, Thorne won 14 worldwide titles after turning pro in 1975.
He came close to winning the coveted UK Championship in 1985, at one stage leading favourite Steve Davis 13-8. His finest hour came that same year in The Classic, with Thorne beating Cliff Thorburn to claim his only ranked tournament title.
Dubbed ‘Mr Maximum’ for holding the record for most maximum 147 breaks, Thorne retired from snooker in 2001 but stayed in the sport’s spotlight as part of the BBC’s commentary team.
A close friend of Gary Lineker, the Match of the Day host was among those to pay tribute to Thorne.
“Deeply, deeply saddened to hear that my friend Willie Thorne has passed away,” he wrote on Twitter.
“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.”
So sorry to hear Willie Thorne has passed away. This pic was from a golf day last year he was being a brilliant auctioneer raising thousands for charity. He was always great company, always smiling and had the most wonderful moustache. Sending love and thoughts to his family. pic.twitter.com/RVMLlbUn9L
— Ben Shephard (@benshephard) June 17, 2020
Northern Irish snooker legend Dennis Taylor also paid his respects online.
“Devastating 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.”
Thorne is survived by his three children and two step children.