Davis leads Higgins tributes
Steve Davis has led the tributes to Alex Higgins after the two-time world champion died on Saturday at the age of 61.
Last Updated: 25/07/10 11:30am
Steve Davis has led the tributes to Alex Higgins after the two-time world champion died on Saturday at the age of 61 following a prolonged battle with cancer.
Higgins won the world title in both 1972 and 1982 and his cavalier style earned him legions of fans as well as the nickname 'The Hurricane'.
A colourful yet controversial character, the Northern Irishman was one of the catalysts in the game's surge in popularity in the 1980s and six-time world champion Davis believes it was his competitive nature that so endeared Higgins to the public.
" I only knew him professionally not personally, but as a player he had so much fascination for the crowd and fans that watched him because he was such a competitive animal, and you always knew how he was feeling," he told Sky Sports News.
"In a game that is reserved and we wear bow ties and suits you could read what Alex Higgins was thinking.
"He had that magnetism that is rare in sport and he was demonstrative around the table. He drew people who would not necessarily have watched snooker to the game."
Davis continued: "Ray Reardon and John Spencer were great champions of the 70s but the person who dragged the game further was Alex Higgins.
"He use to wear this awful garb, he wore white trousers and a tank top for the World Championship and the authorities were always trying to pin him down to wear a bow tie but he always took it off. He would even bring bottles of champagne in for the board. He had that cheek in him.
"It caused problems within the game, upsetting all and sundry at an official level and the crowd loved him for it. He was a genius and along with Ronnie (O'Sullivan) and Jimmy (White), they are the three players who have had more shots that they could play.
"He hated the authorities of the game, he would be spitting blood when they turned him away or tried to ban him for misdemeanours that led to his downfall.
"My memories are of what a clever player on a snooker table he was. He was a player I had so many battles with, it was a pleasure to play against the man."
Memorable break of 69
Davis also revealed his favourite memory of Higgins was the break he made to win the deciding frame of the 1982 World Championship semi-final against Jimmy White.
Trailing 59-0, Higgins produced a spectacular break of 69 where he was rarely able to find ideal position to seal a place in the final, which he went on to win.
"To this day he has the accolade of the most amazing clearance against Jimmy White to salvage the semi-final in 1982. In that clearance you could see the skill of the man and the bottle he had," concluded Davis.
Another former world champion Dennis Taylor told the BBC: "I don't think you'll ever, ever see another player in the game of snooker like the great Alex Higgins.
"He was a very, very exciting player to watch. He just was totally unique.
"He battled right to the end, did Alex, and that's what he did throughout his whole snooker career."