Steve Davis has hailed Stephen Hendry as "the best winning machine we ever had" after snooker's most successful player took his final bow at the Crucible.
A day on from announcing his retirement, Hendry was yesterday back in the arena where he was met by a guard of honour provided by five fellow former world champions in Davis, Dennis Taylor, Ken Doherty, John Parrott and Terry Griffiths.
Hendry saluted the crowd, on their feet to applaud the seven-time winner of the Betfred.com World Championship, who also landed six Masters titles and triumphed five times at the UK Championship.
Davis, still on the professional tour at the age of 54, has no doubt his old adversary will be sorely missed.
World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn yesterday said Hendry deserved a knighthood, and Davis labelled the 43-year-old Scot a "demi-god".
"I think he pushed the barriers further when it came to break-building," Davis said.
"He certainly also changed the game into a much more aggressive and attacking game and was the first player to really prove that that game could work.
"Beforehand it had been considered that you were a bit of a lemming if you played too many attacking shots.
"He took it to a new level, being aggressive and winning aggressively, and I think he was the best winning machine we ever had.
"He had plenty of guts on the table as well, that stood him in good stead."
Hendry is giving up snooker in favour of a lucrative contract to promote pool in China, reaching the verdict he could not remain competitive while juggling business, family and snooker commitments.
Hearn said: "In many ways I suppose I've retired Stephen Hendry, which I don't feel proud of. But this sport is much more important than an individual."
He added: "Steve Davis should have had a knighthood 10 years ago, and I think Stephen Hendry for his contribution to the game is right up there as well.
"In my opinion those two feature far above many previous recipients."
Davis said that the man who was awarded an MBE in 1994 was worthy of higher recognition than that honour.
Davis said: "When you look at how the British product that is snooker has been entertaining millions abroad, let alone this country, you can make an argument for the fact he could be more decorated than he is.
"There's other people in the world of sport who have won less and got more.
"If you were going to judge it on his role as an ambassador and as a winner, he should certainly be up there on a cloud somewhere. Demi-god status."