Stephen Hendry believes it was the right time to retire from snooker after bowing out of the Betfred.com World Championship and bringing his record-breaking career to an end.
The 43-year-old Scottish legend of the baize quit after a 13-2 loss to Stephen Maguire in the Crucible quarter-finals.
It was not the way he pictured going out but Hendry said he had decided three months ago that this would be his last season on tour.
And he took consolation from the 147 maximum break he made in the first round against Stuart Bingham, his third at the Crucible and 11th in all, matching Ronnie O’Sullivan’s record mark.
Hendry said: “I am officially retired now from tournament snooker.
“I made the decision about three months ago.
“I didn’t tell many people. I only told two or three people.
“It was quite an easy decision. There’s a few reasons. The schedule didn’t help. The fact that I’m not playing the snooker I want to play didn’t help. The fact I’m not enjoying practice doesn’t help.
“The time is right for me. If I’d have won the title it would have been an even better way to go out.
“I’m delighted I made a maximum here, that’s why I was more animated than normal when making it. I was delighted to do it on my last appearance here.”
Hendry also knocked out reigning champion John Higgins in round two in Sheffield before falling short against Maguire.
Hendry made 27 consecutive appearances at the World Championship, having lost to Willie Thorne on his debut in 1986.
He was champion of the world in 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1999, reaching further finals in 1997 and 2002.
Reflecting on his favourite Crucible memories, Hendry said: “I’ve had so many it’s hard to pinpoint special ones. My first win here, obviously the seventh world title, making maximums, I could write a book on the memories I’ve had here.”
He insisted it was not time to shed a tear.
“No, not really. I’ve never been the most emotional person even when I win,” he said.
“It’s sad that I won’t play here again. I love playing here, but it’s a relief as much as anything.
“I haven’t been able to play the way I’ve wanted to play for the last 10 years, and it’s just ground me down and down and down.
“I keep getting beaten in first rounds and second rounds by people I still know are not as good as me. After a while it becomes too much.”
Maguire was taken aback by Hendry’s announcement, saying: “I’m speechless. He’s left a great legacy.
“He’s the best player to ever pick up a cue in my eyes.”
This morning sees two-time Crucible runner-up Matthew Stevens return with an 11-5 lead against Ryan Day in their all-Welsh quarter-final, having won nine consecutive frames to close in on victory.
Ronnie O’Sullivan trailed Neil Robertson 5-3 after their opening session, while Ali Carter was ahead by the same mark against Welsh qualifier Jamie Jones. Their matches resume during the day and conclude this evening.