Former snooker star and BBC commentator Willie Thorne has died at the age of 66, says World Snooker.
He retired from professional snooker in 2001 and for many years was a respected BBC commentator.
Thorne reached two World Championship quarter-finals during his career and won the 1985 Mercantile Credit Classic.
He twice reached a world ranking of seven and spent 20 years among the top 32, before moving into a commentary career spanning more than 30 years with BBC, ITV and Sky.
A GoFundMe page set up to help pay for his treatment had passed £17,000 by Tuesday afternoon, when it was disclosed he had been placed into an induced coma.
His carer, Julie O’Neill, wrote on the page on Wednesday: “It is with a very heavy and broken heart that I have to officially announce that at 1.55am this morning Willie Thorne lost his battle and passed away.
“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. He passed away very peacefully and without pain, listening to his children saying they love him. That gives me some comfort in this difficult time.”
Known as Mr Maximum, Thorne was the third player to reach the landmark of 100 centuries and made a 147 in the 1987 UK Championship.
‘A marvellous snooker player and a lovely man’
Born in Leicester, Thorne was a long-term friend of ex-footballer Gary Lineker and the former England and Leicester City striker said he was “deeply saddened” by the news.
Writing on social media, the Match of the Day presenter added: “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.”
Crowd favourite Ronnie O’Sullivanwrote: “Just want to say what a beautiful man, big heart, great company. Had a week in Ireland with him I’ll never forget. Will be missed by a lot of people in the Snooker world. RIP WT.”
Former world champion Dennis Taylor, a long-standing colleague of Thorne in the commentary box, said they had “laughed our way around the world for 45 years”, adding: wrote: “RIP Great One. That was my name for him. The Great WT. Lots of love to his family.”
World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn said: “I had the pleasure of managing the Great WT as part of the Matchroom team in the 1980s. He was a larger than life personality and he was a major part of the rebirth of snooker at that time. It’s so sad to hear he has passed away and our thoughts are with his family.”
Seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry wrote: “Very sad news today, Willie was one of my favourite people in snooker. I know he had faults and weaknesses (we all do) but he was one of the game’s greatest ever characters, I’ll miss him.”
In 2016, Thorne was declared bankrupt after admitting borrowing £1m to fund his gambling addiction.