Steve Davis called time on his glittering 38-year professional career in 2016. Announcing his decision at the World Championship, he said: “It has been a fantastic. The game will move on to other places but I feel like the grandfather of the sport. I will still do exhibitions and enjoy snooker and be part of it. Hopefully I’ll be with the BBC team for as many years as they want me. I will still be involved in the coaching and schools project because I think those things are important. I just don’t want to play any more, it’s too difficult.
“It had cross my mind that perhaps I could go for the challenge of Q School next year just to see how I got on. In a way it would be going full circle to see if I could qualify to turn pro again. But my father wasn’t well so I entered the World Championship for him this year. He was still alive when I entered, then he passed away so I played the match against Fergal and it was only one I ever played without him.”
In fact Davis dropped off the professional tour at the end of the 2013/14 season, though he played in certain events for the next two seasons with an invitational wild card.
Emerging in the early days of snooker’s development as a major television sport, Davis came to dominate the green baize throughout the 1980s. He won his first world title in 1981 when he beat Doug Mountjoy 18-12 in the final and his sixth in 1989 with a record 18-3 thrashing of Parrott.
Perhaps more famous than Davis’ victories, though, were his two defeats in the Crucible final. In 1985 he lost 18-17 on the final black at 12.20am to Dennis Taylor in one of the most memorable occasions in all of sport, watched by 18.5 million BBC2 viewers. “It’s all there in black and white,” Davis observed with typical deadpan humour. The following year he went down 18-12 to rank outsider Joe Johnson.
The man nicknamed the Ginger Magician recorded snooker’s first televised maximum 147 at the 1982 Lada Classic and received a Lada car for his troubles. He has won 28 ranking titles in all. He was made an MBE in 1988 and an OBE in The Queen’s New Year Honours in 2001.
Davis reached an incredible landmark in 2010 by appearing at the Crucible for a record 30th time. A nail-biting 10-9 defeat of Mark King in the first round was followed by an extraordinary 13-11 defeat of John Higgins. Beating a man in the prime of his career and defending the world title will go down as one of the supreme achievements of Davis’s glorious career.
“To beat John Higgins, one of the greatest players to have held a cue at the Crucible, as the champion, is just amazing. I had a tear in my eye through shock and disbelief,” said snooker legend Davis.
That was where the fairlytale ended, however, as he lost 13-5 to eventual champion Neil Robertson in the quarter-finals.
He achieved a remarkable milestone at the 2005 UK Championship by reaching his 100th major final.
After knocking out Mark Allen, Stephen Maguire, Ken Doherty and Stephen Hendry, his run was finally ended by Chinese whizzkid Ding Junhui who triumphed 10-6.
His previous major final was at the 2004 Welsh Open when he led Ronnie O’Sullivan 8-5 only to lose 9-8. The Rocket was his victim when Davis won his last major title – the 1997 Masters when he took the last six frames of the final at Wembley to win 10-8.
Father-of-two Davis is a keen poker player. He loves collecting and listening to music and hosts a weekly radio show on Phoenix FM, as well as DJ-ing at festivals including Glastonbury. He is also an accomplished chess player and a former president of the British Chess Federation.