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John Virgo on Stephen Hendry Comeback: ‘It’s a mystery’

The seven-time world champion announced his comeback around twelve months ago.

John Virgo can’t comprehend why Stephen Hendry has opted for a return to professional snooker following nine years of retirement from the game.

The 1979 UK champion has been left confused by the former world number one’s decision, which has seen him win just two matches on the circuit in the last six months.

“I don’t understand it, it’s a mystery to me, I’ve got to be honest with you,” John Virgo told the Talking Snooker Podcast when pressed about Stephen Hendry.

“It’s a mystery, I do not understand why he’d want to come back, and the reason I say that is – not that I’ve spoken to Stephen about it, and he’s a good friend of mine – but he was playing in some of the Seniors events and wasn’t getting results.”

“Why would he think that if he went on the Main Tour he’d start to get results? I didn’t understand it.

“Sometimes I think why is Jimmy playing…but Jimmy says ‘I love playing the game and I want to play’ so there’s no law against that.

“Maybe that’s the same reason for Stephen, I don’t know, but it was a strange decision and I still don’t understand it.

“I’ve not asked him why, because it’s not my business, but he’s not doing it for the money – the only way to get money out of it is to win a few matches, and that ain’t happening.”

Virgo, who also revealed in a wide-ranging discussion about his long career in and around the sport that this season might be his last in the commentary box with the BBC, ranked Ronnie O’Sullivan ahead of Hendry as the greatest player of all time.

“Ronnie is the best player I’ve ever seen (for) what he has produced at the highest level under the highest pressure situations.”

“If he had been a bit more level in his mind he’d have got up to 10 world titles, I’m convinced of that.”

Featured photo credit: WST


  1. Carl Hungness

    Hendry himself has been quoted as saying, “It’s all I’ve ever known,” (about snooker). So it seems reasonable he wants to capture the passion he had for the game and its attendant dedication. Hendry hasn’t exhibited any interest in anything but a life on the baize and it is sad to see a former shining star grasping for the glory again.

  2. I disagree with John Virgo that ‘the only way to make money is to win matches’. Stephen Hendry’s comeback has attracted a lot of media attention, which brings many opportunities via sponsorship, etc. WST have certainly enjoyed the coverage. John Virgo himself is heavily involved in promotional events such as exhibitions. Surely he understands all this?

  3. Karen Kinloch

    Stephen Hendry still thinks he can win. I believe he could do that. Even though it may take a while to get back to his potting machine mode. He maybe is a little more older now but if he thinks he can do it, let him.

  4. Jamie Brannon

    Virgo was talking specifically about Hendry making money rather than the wider financial benefits of his return.

    Sad news about the passing of former snooker referee Alan Chamberlain. A little surprising he officiated at only one World Championship final when he was the arbiter for eight Masters finals. He made a bold call many years ago to call out Fergal O’Brien over slow play.

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