On the face of it there’s not much left to write about Steve Davis that hasn’t been said already. In 34 years on the circuit he has been one of snooker’s finest ambassadors, greatest winners and most relentlessly disciplined professionals.
The remarkable thing is that, at 55, Davis still retains an almost childlike fascination with snooker.
He has every right to have become thoroughly fed up with knocking balls around a table by now. But he hasn’t. You only have to speak to him for a few minutes to realise he remains one of snooker’s leading evangelists.
Today he plays a 16 year-old, Zhu Yinghui, at the Shanghai Masters.
Davis was one of the first professionals to play in China 30 years ago when he and his manager, Barry Hearn, explored new frontiers on and off the table.
In Shanghai in 1999 I watched him miss a dolly blue to beat his old foe Stephen Hendry. He went on to lose 5-4.
Davis disappeared after the match before turning up 20 minutes or so later for the press conference. “Sorry about that. I was upstairs in my room trying to kill myself,” he deadpanned.
Chinese press, not accustomed to his sense of humour, looked at one another with some confusion, not to say alarm.
In Beijing in 2005, at the China Open eventually won by Ding Junhui, Steve bashed his head on the thick steel door which formed the back entrance to the venue. I thought this was funny until I very quickly did the same thing.
He was so dazed by it that he had to withdraw from his match with Ricky Walden after just a few frames.
Only injury would ever cause Davis not to give it his all. He is held in respect by the other players because they see a man who has dedicated his life to his sport, who has achieved so much and who still wants to be part of it, still wants to play.
For as long as there are balls to pot, Steve Davis will be trying his hardest.