Willie Thorne: Stars pay tribute to snooker's 'Mr Maximum' after his death aged 66

Luke Bradshaw
·Sports Writer
·3 min read

Members of the snooker world and beyond have been paying their tributes to former player Willie Thorne, who died on Wednesday morning.

The 66-year-old was placed in a coma during a short battle with leukaemia.

A message on Thorne’s GoFundMe page read: “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.”

Snooker - Caesarscasino.com Snooker Shoot-Out - Circus Arena, Blackpool Tower - 29/1/11  Willie Thorne during the draw  Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Craig Brough
Willie Thorne (Action Images/Craig Brough)

Written by his carer Julie O’Neill, it continued: “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.”

Match Of The Day presenter and friend Gary Lineker was one of the first to pay tribute, calling Thorne “one of life’s great characters. A marvellous snooker player and a lovely man.”

World Snooker said: “We are deeply saddened to hear that the Great WT himself, Willie Thorne, has passed away at the age of 66. It’s a great loss to our sport. Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time. RIP Willie.”

Thorne, who went by the nickname “Mr Maximum” due to the number of times he recorded 147 breaks (snooker’s maximum possible score in a frame), spent 20 years as one of the top 32 players in the world before retiring and becoming a successful commentator.

English snooker player Willie Thorne competing in the World Snooker Championship at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, 1988.  (Photo by Pascal Rondeau/Getty Images)
Willie Thorne competing in the World Snooker Championship. (Pascal Rondeau/Getty Images)

Former world champions Stephen Hendry, Neil Robertson and Dennis Taylor also shared their tributes, as did Leicester City, Thorne’s hometown team.