Stephen Hendry to make snooker comeback after eight years away – it might even give Ronnie O’Sullivan a challenge

Stephen Hendry says ‘the buzz’ of competing has lured him out of retirement.

The seven-time world champion will return to the World Snooker Tour for the next two seasons.

Hendry is a seven-time snooker world champion, winning his first title in 1990, and is regarded as one of the best to have played the sport

Hendry is a seven-time snooker world champion, winning his first title in 1990, and is regarded as one of the best to have played the sport

The Scot retired in 2012, having slipped out of the World Championship at the quarter-final stage that year.

But now, after an eight-year absence, the 51-year-old will return to snooker’s main circuit.

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to enter some tournaments over the coming two seasons,” he said.

“I’ve really enjoyed picking up my cue again recently at the World Seniors and after some coaching I feel a little more confident in my game.

O’Sullivan has taken over from Hendry and has been critical of the standard of other players on the current professional circuit

Getty Images – Getty

O’Sullivan has taken over from Hendry and has been critical of the standard of other players on the current professional circuit

“I’ve always missed the buzz of competing and although I have no expectations in terms of performance, this felt like a good time to explore getting back to the table.”

Ronnie O’Sullivan has assumed the mantle of snooker’s best player and claimed his sixth world title this year, at the age of 44.

But he criticised the standard of play from snooker’s younger generation, insisting a lack of quality has been the main reason for his domination, which wasn’t well received by everyone in the game.

“I am thrilled that Stephen has decided to return to the tour,” World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn said.

“He is a giant of the sport and I know that all eyes will be on him every time he takes to the table in the coming months.”

Hendry is now 51 and may have been given confidence by watching 44-year-old O’Sullivan still able to dominate. Anticipation will outweigh expectation when he returns

Getty Images – Getty

Hendry is now 51 and may have been given confidence by watching 44-year-old O’Sullivan still able to dominate. Anticipation will outweigh expectation when he returns

Hendry claimed his first world crown in 1990 where he became the youngest champion at the age of 21.

He went on to claim the Crucible’s top prize six more times within the decade.

“If I’m not the greatest player that’s played the game, then there’s only one other player who can claim that mantle — and that would be Stephen Hendry,” O’Sullivan said.

“He came along and tore the game to pieces. I had never seen the game played like that before.”

Hendry quit the professional game after a 13-2 defeat by Stephen Maguire in the 2012 World Championship quarter-finals.

“He was in the top 16 when he quit and I asked him if he ever thought he had jacked it in too early,” Hearn, 72, said.

“He said he had enjoyed playing again and I told him he only needed to apply for a wild card.

“He is not coming back just for the crack. That’s not the Hendry style. He will get his head down and be practising. It’s fantastic for the game of snooker. He is a giant of the sport and everyone will want to see him again. Everyone’s a winner.”

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Snooker – talkSPORT

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