Stephen Maguire has little doubt he ended the career of Scotland’s greatest sportsman after sending seven-time world snooker champion Stephen Hendry into retirement last night.
The announcement from Hendry that he would quit the professional tour to promote pool in China came within minutes of Maguire beating him 13-2 in their Betfred.com World Championship quarter-final.
It caught fellow Scot Maguire by surprise, with Hendry only confiding in a select group of confidants that his 27th Crucible visit would be his final tournament.
And 31-year-old Maguire, who was given a helping hand into the professional ranks when he practised with Hendry as a teenager, rates his 43-year-old compatriot as second to none among Scotland’s sporting legends.
“You would think so. Obviously there’s a couple of football players who would think something different but I’m not a football fan so I would say yes,” Maguire said. “He’s done everything in the game and he’s done it with a bit of class.”
With 36 ranking titles, six Masters triumphs, and 775 career centuries, Hendry ranks as snooker’s most successful player of the modern era.
He woke today to life as a former tournament snooker player, having turned professional in 1985.
He has commitments to play exhibition events, but does not intend to play competitively again.
Maguire pinpointed another Scottish player, John Higgins, as the only player in the game who might challenge Hendry’s mark of seven world titles. Higgins, 36, has won four times in Sheffield, putting him one ahead of Ronnie O’Sullivan.
“I think the only one that can do it is John,” Maguire said. “He’s got four and John’s got plenty of years left. He’s the only one really I can see who can match it.”
Maguire was clinical against Hendry, who could not match the form which saw him beat Stuart Bingham 10-4 in round one, when he made a record-equalling third World Championship 147 break, and John Higgins 13-4 in round two.
“I know he’ll not be happy with the quarter-finals,” Maguire said. “But to get another maximum at the Crucible and to beat the defending world champion, he’s left a mark on this tournament again, so fair play to him.”