One of the most instantly recognised faces in the game, Dennis Taylor is one of snooker’s real entertainers. He will forever be remembered for his epic 1985 World Championship win against Steve Davis on the final black with some 18 million people watching on television well after midnight.
Taylor was born in Coalisland, Co. Tyrone in Northern Ireland and started playing snooker when he was nine and was the local senior champion at 14. He moved to England in 1966 and lived near Blackburn in Lancashire. In 1968 he won the national under-19 billiards championship.
He turned professional in November 1972 and his first professional event was the 1973 World Championship when he lost in the first round 9-8 to Cliff Thorburn. He failed to qualify in 1974 but the following year reached the semi-finals, beaten by Eddie Charlton 19-12. 1977 saw him in another semi-final, losing to Thorburn.
Two years later, he achieved the break-through and reached his first final at the Crucible. He lost 24-16 to Terry Griffiths and although it would be six years before he reached his second final, it was one that would live long in the memory.
It was the 1984/5 season that saw his fortunes change, on and off the table. First there was the sudden death of his mother which was to be his inspiration. Because of this he pulled out of the first ranking event that season, the Jameson International, after reaching the quarter-finals. The next tournament was the Grand Prix at the Hexagon in Reading. Taylor did not want to play but his family persuaded him.
The whole nation shared his tears of joy as he beat Cliff Thorburn for his first major title. Still better was to come, of course, and the season ended with that famous win over Steve Davis to make him champion of the world.
He suffered the ‘Crucible curse’ when he returned to defend his title, losing in the opening round.
The Northern Irishman was famous for his ‘upside down’ glasses which become his trade mark.
He retired from pro snooker in 2000, though he still plays in senior and exhibition events. Taylor is now one of the leading commentators on snooker for BBC Sport.