Snooker legend and BBC Sport stalwart Willie Thorne dies at 66

Simon Austin's picture
by Simon Austin
Wiilie Thorne

Willie Thorne, the former snooker star who went on to work as a BBC Sport commentator for 30 years, has died at the age of 66 in hospital in Spain.

His carer, Julie O'Neill, announced 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.

"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."

Thorne, who announced he had leukaemia in March, had been taken to hospital last week with low blood pressure. He was subsequently placed in an induced coma.O’Neill set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for his treatment, which had passed £19,000.

Today she added: "Thank you so very much to everyone that has been involved in Willie's care you have all been absolutely amazing and Willie couldn't have asked for better.

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"Thank you for all the donations that enabled him to get the care he needed! This will now pay for his funeral."

Thorne reached two World Championship quarter-finals and won his only ranking title, the Mercantile Credit Classic, in 1982. Three years later, he lost 16–14 to Steve Davis in the final of the 1985 UK Championship, having led 13–8 at one point.

Thorne was part of snooker's 'Matchroom Mob' that featured in the 1986 Chas and Dave hit Snooker Loopy. He responded to the line "Old Willie Thorne, his hair's all gorn" with the reply: "Perhaps I ought to chalk it!"

Thorne went on to become a BBC commentator and appeared on the 2007 series of Strictly Come Dancing with partner Erin Boag, being voted out in 12th place.

He later battled bankruptcy after admitting he had borrowed up to £1m in order to feed his gambling addiction.

After the news of his passing was announced today, Thorne's close friend Gary Lineker described him as “one of life’s great characters” who had “potted his final black much too soon.”

BBC presenter Gabby Logan posted: "So sad to hear about the death of Willie Thorne. I loved watching his career, we made friends on Strictly Come Dancing where he was the loveliest ''team mate'."

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