The snooker world is mourning the loss of Welsh legend Doug Mountjoy, who passed away on Sunday aged 78.
Mountjoy enjoyed a glittering career which spanned three decades and saw him lift two ranking titles, as well as reaching a World Championship final.
A stalwart of snooker’s golden generation in the 80s, Mountjoy finished runner-up to Steve Davis at The Crucible in 1981.
Seven years later, working alongside legendary coach Frank Callan, Mountjoy became the oldest player to win the UK Championship at 46, a record which still stands today.
He then followed that up by winning the 1989 Classic title, and by the end of the 1988/89 season he was back in the world’s top 16, where he remained until 1992.
Mountjoy’s world ranking peaked during the 1990/1991 season when he made it as high as world number five.
He grew up just outside Ebbw Vale and worked as a coal miner, playing snooker in his spare time, eventually winning the World Amateur title in 1976 and turning professional at the age of 34.
Mountjoy was a household name alongside the likes of Davis, Alex Higgins and Dennis Taylor in the 80s and defeated an emerging young talent by the name of Stephen Hendry in the final of the 1988 UK Championship.
After the match, a gracious Mountjoy hailed Hendry as a future star of the sport and joked: “I can see him getting into the Top 300 at some point!”
He was diagnosed with lung cancer and in 1993 and made his last World Championship appearance, defeating Alain Robidoux 10-6 in the First Round just weeks before undergoing an operation to remove his left lung.
He survived the cancer and continued to play snooker until 1997, turning his attention to coaching and making occasional appearances in legends events thereafter.
A number of Mountjoy’s former opponents and friends on the circuit have paid their tributes after news of his passing on February 14, 2021.
Cliff Thorburn said: “So sad to hear of Doug Mountjoy’s passing today.
“He was a true champion and gentleman. He had all the shots and the heart of a lion. You knew he was in the room by his laughter and I spent many a happy time with Doug!
“My sympathies to his family and friends.”
Dennis Taylor said: “Just heard the sad news of the passing of one of our legends.
“Doug Mountjoy a very special Welsh man. RIP my dear friend.”
Jimmy White tweeted: ‘Sorry to hear about the loss of a great legend of the sport. Rip Doug Mountjoy.’
Neal Foulds tweeted: ‘First time I saw Doug Mountjoy play – Inaugural Pontins Pro-Am 1974. Won it as an amateur.
‘Sleeves rolled up all week, beat John Spencer in the final. Battery flat on his car, pushed it out of the car park the next day, winners cheque in pocket. RIP to a proper snooker man.’
At 46, Doug Mountjoy became the oldest winner of the UK Championship in 1988 when he defeated rising star @SHendry775 16-12 in the final 🏆
A moment of snooker history. 🇬🇧pic.twitter.com/MXcIxVxf1c
— Live Snooker (@Livesnooker) February 14, 2021