May 2 2012
Steve Davis has supported calls for Stephen Hendry to be knighted after the seven-time world champion called time on his glittering career.
At the age of 43, Hendry is giving up snooker in favour of a lucrative contract to promote pool in China, reaching the verdict he could not juggle business commitments with a sporting career and a family life. Davis feels that Hendry, awarded an MBE in 1994, is worthy of higher recognition.
Six-time world champion Davis said: "When you look at how the British product that is snooker has been entertaining millions abroad, let alone this country, you can make an argument for the fact he could be more decorated than he is. There's other people in the world of sport who have won less and got more."
He added: "If you were going to judge it on his role as an ambassador and as a winner, he should certainly be up there on a cloud somewhere. Demi-god status."
World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn admitted the growing number of tournaments on tour had forced Hendry to quit, saying: "In many ways I suppose I've retired Stephen Hendry, which I don't feel proud of. But this sport is much more important than an individual."
Hearn added: "Steve Davis should have had a knighthood 10 years ago, and I think Stephen Hendry for his contribution to the game is right up there as well.
"In my opinion those two feature far above many previous recipients."
Willie Thorne, who in 1986 became the first player to face Hendry at the Crucible and beat the then 17-year-old, was eager to back the Scot to become snooker's first knight.
"Sir Stephen Hendry, that would be nice. I couldn't call him Sir, though," Thorne said.
Hendry was feted in the Crucible arena before the afternoon session between Neil Robertson and Ronnie O'Sullivan. His fellow former world champions Davis, John Parrott, Ken Doherty, Dennis Taylor and Terry Griffiths formed a guard of honour and Hendry received a standing ovation with loud applause as he entered the arena.