Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins

A snooker player with a quick, daring, attacking game

There is little to say about Alex Higgins that hasn’t already been said. If ever a sportsperson deserved to be referred to as a ‘troubled genius’ then Higgins is the man.

Higgins left school in Belfast in 1964 at the age of 15 to become an apprentice jockey in England. However, he soon turned his attention to snooker, winning the Northern Ireland Amateur crown in 1967, and becoming a professional in 1971.

The following year, having just turned 23, Higgins became World Champion. Over a decade of success followed, and he added another World crown in 1982. Arguably, Higgins did more to popularise snooker in Britain than anyone else, gaining titles galore by playing a quick, daring, attacking game.

However, as he began to be eclipsed by a new generation of young players, most notably his nemesis Steve Davis, Higgins gained notoriety for his activities away from the sport. Whether drinking with Oliver Reed, head-butting officials, falling through windows, or being stabbed by his girlfriend, Higgins was front-page fodder. Broke and ill, Higgins returned to hustling in snooker clubs, as he had as a teenager in the Jampot club on the Donegall Road.

Higgins, however, is a survivor. He has recently beaten throat cancer and, despite living in a homeless hostel in Belfast, is attempting a return to snooker. He has also become something of a ‘lad’ icon to the Loaded generation; in a recent interview, Oasis singer Liam Gallagher said of Higgins’ life, 'I hope that happens to me … Top.'