|At the Cruicble|
For his fans and most of the snooker fans, the news came as a shock and many were those whose eyes filled with tears all of the sudden. Without trying to be dramatic here Hendry going out of snooker represents the end of an era.
He ruled the 90s and put an end to Steve Davis' dominance, he took snooker to the next level, showed what determination is all about, worked his arse off to reach for his goals and treated the sport that made him a champion with the respect it deserved.
To start telling you how many titles he won, would be useless for many of you already know and if you don't, then on what planet have you been living until now?
I remember when snooker wasn't one my passions. I remember seeing Hendry on television. Had no idea I was watching a legend in action, but somehow he always managed to stop me from pushing another button from my remote control and watch his game.
Back then snooker rules were a mystery for me. Had no idea what this man was doing with those colourful balls. But whatever the rules were, he followed and knew them by heart, for he was winning most of the time.
|Winning the world title in 1995|
Two years ago, when snooker became part of my life for good, I was searching for his name on the draw. There he was, again. Far from his best, but still maintaining that geniality sparkle, Hendry wasn't amongst those favourite for the title anymore.
But for me it didn't matter. What it did matter was the fact that after all those years of not having a clue who were the snooker players, or what was snooker really about, its logo was still playing. One of the greatest icons of snooker's history was still there rocking on the green baize.
It was my first connection with this sport and I guess that if you are a complete ignorant imbecile like I was, not having a thing to do with snooker, but still knowing Hendry and acknowledging at some level that he's a great player, this guy must have meant something for the sport. I'm being ironic here; he's meant a great deal!
Last year, during the same World Championship he revealed his intentions of retiring from snooker after the fact he'll drop out of the glorious Top 16 was a certainty. The fact that he would have to qualify for events and play in the PTCs to retain a certain honourable ranking position wasn't something the legend was very fond of.
|Getting congratulations for his 11th maximum break|
He even reached the semi-finals of the PTC 12 Event, before losing by 4-3 to the same Stephen Maguire.
When he came into the Crucible arena and beat Stuart Bingham, made that marvellous maximum break and kicked the defending champion John Higgins out, the thought of seeing him retire didn’t event cross my mind.
Then it came the terrible 13-2 defeat after playing against Maguire, the way-too-warm-and-emotional salute of the crowd and the announcement that he retires.
Came as a shock for many, came as a normal thing for him. A decision that he stated he took "about three months ago" due to a busy schedule, new commitments in China and a poor form that wasn't winning anything lately.
|Playing his last match against Maguire|
And for Hendry it was all about performing not well, but great. He loves winning, he loves being the best, that's why when he couldn’t do it anymore decided to end it. It's an honourable thing to do, although it produces pain to the sport's fans all over the world.
On the other hand, how many times have we seat in front of our telly and said it was so painful to see Hendry play and lose, most of the times? In a recent interview he gave for the BBC he said he didn't play great at all during this World Championship. He had a good session, but that’s all.
|Once a champ, always a champ|
So "enough, is enough" as the man himself said yesterday.
What Hendry leaves behind is a sport that wouldn’t and couldn’t' be the same without his great achievements and wonderful cue action. What Hendry leaves behind is a generation of players that turn to snooker precisely because of him. What Hendry leaves behind is a legacy that will continue no matter if he plays snooker or not.
Because you see, you can't retire from being a legend.
Thank you Stephen for being such a great inspiration for me and for many others!