Money raised for Higgins’care to go to funeral

ABOUT €12,000 raised to help snooker ace Alex “Hurricane” Higgins receive medical treatment will go towards defraying his funeral expenses.

Higgins’ former personal assistant Will Robinson disclosed the money was left over from an auction and dinner held in Manchester.

The 61-year-old flamboyant twice world snooker champion died last Saturday after fighting a long battle against throat cancer.

Mr Robinson said the snooker player’s sister Jean and friend and fellow player Jimmy White had asked for the remaining funds to be used for the funeral.

No details have been finalised for Higgins’ funeral as Jimmy White is in Thailand and wishes to travel back for it.

“He’s asked to hold things up until he gets back. That’s the plan and the family have agreed to that,” Mr Robinson said.

Mr Robinson, Higgins’ PA for five years, declared he was one of the greatest sportsmen ever.

“A genius. There’s two things that made snooker what it is today,” he said. “One is colour television and the second thing is Alex Higgins.

“He was the people’s champion. He was the person that everybody wanted to watch.”

The “Hurricane” Higgins – world champion in 1972 and 1982 – died in his home city of Belfast.

Ken Doherty, 40, who was world champion in 1997, also paid tribute to the influence of Higgins.

“He certainly was an inspiration to me,” Doherty said. “Nobody could emulate what he did. He was such a once-off. He was so charismatic, unpredictable, the way he played the game, his character himself, he was just a genius.”

Higgins claimed the 1972 title becoming the youngest World Championship at his first attempt. He helped raise the profile of the sport, but there was also a darker side to his personality.

He was banned from five tournaments and fined £12,000 in 1986 when he headbutted UK Championship tournament director Paul Hatherell.

In 1990, Higgins threatened to have fellow player Dennis Taylor shot and he was banned for the rest of the season after he punched a tournament director at the World Championships.

Higgins underwent surgery to remove cancer from his throat in 1998.

By then he was a heavy drinker and smoker, with both addictions seriously affecting his health.

Higgins travelled to Spain earlier this month for a dental operation, but medics deemed him too frail to go ahead with it.

A book of condolences is to open in Belfast’s City Hall today.


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