Hendry leads tributes to Hunter

SEVEN-TIMES world champion Stephen Hendry today led tributes to Paul Hunter, who lost his battle against cancer last night at the age of 27.Hunter, whose illness was made public the night before he was due to play at the Corn Exchange in Ipswich in April last year, died last night at Kirkwood Hospice in Huddersfield, five days before his 28th birthday.

SEVEN-TIMES world champion Stephen Hendry today led tributes to Paul Hunter, who lost his battle against cancer last night at the age of 27.

Hunter, whose illness was made public the night before he was due to play at the Corn Exchange in Ipswich in April last year, died last night at Kirkwood Hospice in Huddersfield, five days before his 28th birthday.

The three-times Masters champion was widely expected to add the World Championship to his list of titles until illness took hold and Hendry insists Hunter will be sorely missed.

"Paul was just a really nice guy and a great player," Hendry said.

"When he first emerged on the scene, he had the ability you always thought would eventually result in him becoming a world champion.

"Sadly he never got the chance to fulfil that goal. But his record, especially in the Masters at Wembley, spoke for itself.”

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Hunter, who leaves a wife Lindsey and daughter Evie Rose, was diagnosed with neuro-endocrine tumours of the lining of his stomach in March 2005.

He appeared to be beating the disease when he returned to competition, however his condition deteriorated and he was taken into hospice care last Friday.

Despite chemotherapy treatment, Hunter remained committed to resuming his career, but he won only one match last season and fell from fifth to 34th in the rankings.

"Before he took ill, Paul was in the top four in the world and maybe even had his best days to come,” Hendry added.

"Every player on the circuit was pulling for Paul to come through because he was just a genuinely nice guy who never fell out with anyone. He just wanted to play the game.

"My thoughts are with his wife, daughter and family on what is a sad day and a day I've never experienced during my time in the game.”

Hunter stunned the world of snooker by announcing that he had cancer the night before he was scheduled to appear at the Corn Exchange in Ipswich in the Betfred.com Premier League in April last year.

Hunter pulled out of the event and Welshman Mark Williams, who played twice in his absence, told the Evening Star at the time: “I've known him for a long time and always got on well and liked the way he plays the game. He is one of the strongest characters around.

“We are all sad about the news. It is sickening and absolutely scary.”

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