Peter Ebdon announces his retirement from professional snooker

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Ebdon brings an end to a 29-year career (Photo by Imaginechina/SIPA USA/PA Images)

Former World Champion Peter Ebdon has announced his retirement from professional snooker at the age of 49.

Ebdon turned professional in 1991 and won nine ranking titles during a successful career, including a famous triumph at The Crucible in 2002 and the UK Championship in 2006.

He announced his immediate retirement on Thursday in an interview with Betfred as a result of a chronic neck injury.

Ebdon has suffered from pain in his neck, back, shoulders and arms in recent months and has decided end to his playing career rather than undergo risky spinal surgery.

His 29 years on the circuit included two China Open titles (2009 and 2012) and saw him climb to a career-high position of number three in the world rankings on two occasions.

He appeared in three World Championship finals, the first of which a defeat to Stephen Hendry in 1996, before gaining revenge on the Scot six years later.

His third appearance in the final saw him beaten by Graeme Dott in 2006 before going on to lift the UK title later that season.

He is one of only two players to have defeated Hendry in a World Championship final and was renowned for being one of the most granite competitors the sport has ever produced.

Ebdon made two career maximum breaks, both in 1992, and 377 century breaks in total.

His decision to hang up his cue comes after a lengthy battle with injury which has caused him to miss several ranking events of late.

He told World Championship sponsor Betfred: “I had an MRI scan about seven weeks ago which picked up significant wear and tear in my neck.

“There is serious deterioration in some of the vertebrae and I have been in pain since Christmas.

“Two of the vertebrae need to be replaced, which is not an operation I want to have because if it went wrong I could be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life.

“It’s far too risky. The professor explained to me that it wouldn’t be a cure. It could work, but it could make things worse and I would probably need to have it again in ten years.

“The one thing I can’t do if I don’t have the operation is play snooker again, because of the compression in my neck.

“So, as sad as it is for me, that’s the end. Having weighed everything up that is the decision I have come to.

“At the moment I can walk and talk and the pain has got better. I have received a lot of help from the healers at the College of Healing so a big thank you to them.”

Ebdon now plans to focus his efforts into his other business interests, while also continuing his commentary work for BBC Sport.

He added: “I’d like to continue with my commentary for the BBC if possible.

“I have trained to become a professional healer myself, and I’ve also got a professional pedigree consultancy business.

“It was difficult to put time into those things while I was playing snooker so I can do that now. I’ll have the opportunity to put something back through healing, as well as spending more time with (wife) Nora.”