Tuesday, 22 Sep 2020

Willie Thorne: Snooker star dies after being placed in induced coma in Spain

Snooker star Willie Thorne has died in hospital in Spain after being placed in an induced coma, according to a statement on his GoFundMe page.

The 66-year-old, who announced he had leukaemia in March, was taken to hospital last week with a low blood pressure.

A GoFundMe page set up to help pay for his treatment had raised more than £19,000.

In a statement, Thorne’s carer Julie O’Neill confirmed in a message on the site “with a very heavy and broken heart” that he died in the early hours this morning.

“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,” she said.

“I was with him all the way to his end and reading out messages to him from people.”

She said the sportsman died peacefully, “listening to his children saying they love him”.

Ms O’Neill thanked supporters who had donated for his care, saying the money would now help pay for his funeral.

Thorne, born in Leicester, reached two World Championship quarter-finals and won his only ranking title, the Mercantile Credit Classic, in 1982.

He starred as part of snooker’s Matchroom Mob and went on to become a BBC commentator and appear in the 2007 series of Strictly Come Dancing.

Barry Hearn, the chairman of World Snooker, said: “I had the pleasure of managing the Great WT as part of the Matchroom team in the 1980s.

“He was a larger than life personality and he was a major part of the rebirth of snooker at that time.

“It’s so sad to hear he has passed away and our thoughts are with his family.”

Former England footballer Gary Lineker said he was “deeply, deeply saddened” by the news of his friend’s death.

He described Thorne as “one of life’s great characters”, adding on Twitter: “A marvellous snooker player and a lovely man, who’s potted his final black much too soon.

“RIP Willie.”

Lineker’s former club Leicester City also tweeted about Thorne, who was one of the club’s supporters.

“The thoughts of everyone at Leicester City are with snooker legend and Foxes fan Willie Thorne and his family,” the club posted.

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