The snooker world is today united in grief following the sad news from last night that Paul Hunter has died of cancer at the age of just 27.

Paul was the first snooker player I ever interviewed. It was at the 1998 Welsh Open that he would eventually win.

It's hard to believe, but back then he was shy and unsure of himself during interviews. Players aren't given media training and he didn't really know what he should say.

However, he soon matured into a first class professional on and off the table. He was unfailingly patient and polite in his dealings with the media.

His fellow players are deeply shocked. It will be an emotional atmosphere at the Grand Prix, which starts a week on Saturday.

Ken Doherty, who famously beat Paul 17-16 from 15-9 down in the 2003 Crucible semi-finals, today eloquently summed up the feelings of everyone in snooker.

He said: “It’s very sad for snooker and sport. We’ve lost a great character, a great player and a great friend.

“Everyone was dumbfounded when he was diagnosed with the disease last year. As he was someone so young we all thought that after chemo he’d come through it. I don’t think anyone can believe the news.

“Words can’t explain what his family and friends must be going through. They’re all in our thoughts and prayers.

“We called him the ‘Beckham of the Baize’ because he had the looks and he played up to that character.

“He was one of our characters and a fantastic player. He was a great champion but he was also very magnanimous in defeat.

“The last time I saw him was at the World Championship. He was so courageous. He’d been through the mill with chemotherapy but he just wanted to play.

“He missed snooker. He loved it so much and wanted to be around the snooker fraternity.

“He showed so much courage. Everyone was behind him.

“He had everything. He had the world at his feet and it’s just such a shame.”

There will be many other tributes and they will all be genuine.

Perhaps World Snooker could rename the Masters trophy after Paul - he did win it three times in four years.

There will be other ideas to remember him: perhaps a tournament in his honour, or the renaming of the Academy in Sheffield.

Such is the way he lit up the game, Paul Hunter simply cannot be forgotten.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the last 2 postings. Excellent copy.

My thoughts and feelings are with the family.

You've written all that I remember of the lad. The only other occasion was when he lost to Matthew Stevens two years ago at the World Championship(what a great match)....And then had him as his best man for his marriage to Lindsey a month later in the Carribean!

Thanks, Joe