Former snooker star Willie Thorne dies


London (AFP)

Former snooker star Willie Thorne has died after a short illness at the age of 66, it was announced on his GoFundMe page on Wednesday.

The two-time world championship quarter-finalist had been suffering from leukaemia and was in an induced coma in a Spanish hospital following respiratory failure.

"It is with a very heavy and broken heart that I have to officially announce that at 1:55 am this morning Willie Thorne lost his battle and passed away," read the message written by his carer Julie O'Neill on the GoFundMe page.

"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."

The GoFundMe page set up to help pay for his treatment raised more than two-thirds of its 30,000-euro ($34,000) target.

After being a mainstay in the top-16 throughout the late 1980s and early 90s, Thorne became a snooker commentator for the BBC.

The popular Englishman, who was runner-up at the 1985 UK Championship, struggled financially due to a gambling addiction.

World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn said: "He was a larger-than-life personality and he was a major part of the rebirth of snooker."

England football great Gary Lineker paid tribute to Thorne.

"Deeply, deeply saddened to hear that my friend Willie Thorne has passed away," tweeted Lineker.

"One of life's great characters. A marvellous snooker player and a lovely man, who's potted his final black much too soon. RIP Willie."