PRODIGIES tend to fall into one of two camps – troubled genius or level-headed virtuoso.
In Stephen Hendry’s case, the latter scarcely does him justice.
At his peak across the mid-1990s, Hendry’s icy temperament and technical precision made him the best snooker player the world had ever seen.
From the very moment he burst into the national consciousness aged 21, it was clear he was destined for greatness.
Hendry was no stranger to snooker firsts by the time the World Championships got under way in 1990.
Having become the youngest ever entrant in the World Amateur Championship in 1984, just one year later he became the youngest ever professional player at 16 years and three months.
And as the 1980s progressed, the firsts continued to stack up.
Hendry was the youngest ever Scottish Professional Champion, the youngest ever World Championship qualifier, then the youngest player to retain the Scottish title.
It was all heading in one direction – towards World Championship glory. The only question was: “When?”
He reached the quarter-finals in 1987, slumped to Jimmy White in the second round in ’88, then made it to the last four in 1989.
Presented with another crack at the more experienced White, this time in the 1990 final, he wasn’t going to fail again.
Hendry soon found his relentless, almost robotic groove, and blew “the Whirlwind” away 18 frames to 12 to become the youngest-ever World Champion – a record he still holds.
Seven world titles later, Hendry is known as “The King of the Crucible”. You’d be hard pressed to find a single snooker fan who’d argue with that.