The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary British Snookers of all time. This list of famous British Snookers is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of British Snookers.
With an HPI of 64.12, Ronnie O'Sullivan is the most famous British Snooker. His biography has been translated into 52 different languages on wikipedia.
Ronald Antonio O'Sullivan (born 5 December 1975) is an English professional snooker player from Essex. As a six-time (and reigning) world champion, a record seven-time Masters champion, and a record seven-time UK champion, he is the most successful player in the history of snooker's Triple Crown Series, with a record 20 titles. He also holds the record for the most ranking titles in professional snooker, with 37. His career prize money of over £11.7 million is the most by any player in snooker history. A noted snooker prodigy from an early age, O'Sullivan made his first competitive century break at age 10, won the British Under-16 Championship at age 13, achieved his first competitive maximum break at age 15, and won the IBSF World Under-21 Snooker Championship before turning professional in 1992, aged 16. He won his first ranking title at the 1993 UK Championship aged 17 years and 358 days, making him the youngest player ever to win a professional ranking event, a record he still holds. He is also the youngest player ever to win the Masters, which he first achieved in 1995, aged 19 years and 69 days. O'Sullivan is now also noted for his longevity in the sport, having competed in a record 28 consecutive World Championships at the Crucible between 1993 and 2020. Winning the 2020 World Championship aged 44 years and 254 days made him the second-oldest player (after Ray Reardon) to win a world title in snooker's modern era. A prolific break-builder, he is the only player to have achieved 1,000 career century breaks, a milestone he reached in the 2019 Players Championship final. He has also achieved the highest number of officially recognized maximum breaks in professional competition, with 15, and the fastest competitive maximum break, compiled in a time of 5 minutes and 8 seconds at the 1997 World Championship. Noted for his unpredictable temperament and outspoken views, O'Sullivan has often been at the centre of controversy in the sport. He has received many warnings and sanctions from snooker's governing body over his conduct and comments, and has frequently threatened to retire. Outside his playing career, he has worked as a pundit for Eurosport, has written crime novels and autobiographies, and has starred in the miniseries Ronnie O'Sullivan's American Hustle. He was awarded an OBE in the 2016 New Year Honours.
With an HPI of 61.83, Stephen Hendry is the 2nd most famous British Snooker. His biography has been translated into 41 different languages.
Stephen Gordon Hendry (born 13 January 1969) is a Scottish professional snooker player and a commentator for the BBC and ITV. As a seven-times World Champion, he is the most successful player in the modern era of the World Snooker Championship and holds the record for the most seasons as world number one (nine seasons). His first world title in 1990, at the age of 21, made him the youngest-ever World Champion, a record that he still holds.Hendry also won six Masters titles (including five consecutively), and five UK Championship titles. His total of 18 Triple Crown tournament wins is surpassed only by Ronnie O'Sullivan's 20. One of only three players to have won all three Triple Crown events in a single season, Hendry is the only player to have achieved the feat twice, in the 1989–90 and 1995–96 seasons. He has the second-highest total of ranking titles (36) behind O'Sullivan. A prolific break builder, Hendry has recorded a total of 775 career century breaks, and made 11 officially recognised maximum breaks in professional competition.He was awarded an MBE in 1994, and voted BBC Scotland's Sports Personality of the Year in 1987 and 1996. In May 2012, after featuring in his 27th consecutive World Championship, he announced his retirement from the game, bringing to an end his record 23 consecutive seasons in the top 16 of the world rankings. Hendry’s retirement was in response to his game being severely impacted by ‘yips’, which first began 12 years prior to his retirement. In September 2020, it was announced that Hendry would come out of retirement after having been given an invitational tour card for the next two seasons.
With an HPI of 61.62, Steve Davis is the 3rd most famous British Snooker. His biography has been translated into 38 different languages.
Steve Davis, (born 22 August 1957) is a retired English professional snooker player from Plumstead, London. He dominated the sport during the 1980s, when he reached eight World Snooker Championship finals in nine years, won six world titles, held the world number one ranking for seven consecutive seasons, and became the first snooker player to earn over £1 million in prize money. His encounter with Dennis Taylor in the 1985 World Championship final is widely noted as one of the most famous matches in snooker history. Decided on the final black, it set a record post-midnight UK television audience of 18.5 million viewers. The BBC named Davis its Sports Personality of the Year in 1988, and he remains the only snooker player ever to win the award. Davis won a career total of 28 ranking events. In addition to his six world titles, he won the Masters three times and the UK Championship six times for a total of 15 Triple Crown titles, placing him third on the all-time list behind Ronnie O'Sullivan (20) and Stephen Hendry (18). During the 1987–88 season, he became the first player to win all three Triple Crown events in a single season, and is one of three players to achieve this (with Hendry and Mark Williams). His career total of 355 century breaks includes the first officially recognised and first televised maximum break in professional competition, at the 1982 Classic. Although Hendry ended Davis' dominance in the 1990s, he continued to compete at a high level over the next two decades. He won the 1997 Masters at age 39, reached the final of the 2005 UK Championship at age 48, and was still a top-16 ranked player aged 50 during the 2007–08 season. Davis made a record 30th appearance at the Crucible in 2010 at age 52, where he defeated reigning world champion John Higgins to become the oldest world quarter-finalist since Eddie Charlton in 1983. On 17 April 2016, at age 58, he announced his retirement from the tour after 38 professional seasons. He is now a commentator and analyst for the BBC's snooker coverage. He was made an MBE in the 1988 Birthday Honours and an OBE in the 2000 New Year Honours.
With an HPI of 59.75, Ray Reardon is the 4th most famous British Snooker. His biography has been translated into 24 different languages.
Raymond Reardon, (born 8 October 1932) is a Welsh retired professional snooker player who dominated the sport in the 1970s, winning six World Championships. He was world champion in 1970, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976 and 1978, and runner-up in the 1982 World Championship. He won the inaugural Pot Black tournament in 1969. Reardon was snooker's first dominant force of the modern era and was the first number one ranked player, when world rankings were introduced in the 1976–77 season, holding the top ranking position for the next five years. His dominance throughout the 1970s prefigured that of Steve Davis in the 1980s and Stephen Hendry in the 1990s. He regained the number one ranking in 1982, but his form declined thereafter and he dropped out of the elite top-16 ranked players after the 1986–87 season. He retired from the professional game in 1991. Reardon remained one of snooker's top players into his 50s, setting a number of records which still stand. He is snooker's oldest world champion (in 1978, aged 45 years and 203 days), the oldest player to win a ranking event (in 1982, aged 50 years and 14 days), and the oldest player to hold the number one ranking (in 1982, aged 50). He also worked with Ronnie O'Sullivan in a coaching role, helping him to win the 2004 world title. Despite being a genial figure, Reardon's dark widow's peak and sharp-toothed grin earned him the nickname "Dracula".
With an HPI of 58.85, Jimmy White is the 5th most famous British Snooker. His biography has been translated into 29 different languages.
James Warren White, (born 2 May 1962) is an English senior snooker player who has won 3 seniors World titles, and is the reigning champion. Nicknamed "The Whirlwind" because of his fluid, attacking style of play and popularly referred to as the "People's Champion", White is the 1980 World Amateur Champion, 2009 Six-red World champion, 3 time World Seniors Champion (2010, 2019, 2020), 2019 Seniors 6-Red World Champion and 1984 World Doubles champion with Alex Higgins. White has won two of snooker's three majors: the UK Championship (in 1992) and the Masters (in 1984) and a total of ten ranking events; he is currently tenth on the all-time list of ranking event winners. He reached six World Championship finals but never won the event; the closest he came was in 1994 when he lost in a final frame decider against Stephen Hendry. He spent 21 seasons ranked in snooker's elite top 16. In team events, he won the Nations Cup and the World Cup with England. He is one of a select number of players to have made over 300 century breaks in professional competition. White was also the first left-handed player, and the second player overall, to record a maximum break at the World Championship.
With an HPI of 58.60, John Higgins is the 6th most famous British Snooker. His biography has been translated into 42 different languages.
John Higgins, (born 18 May 1975) is a Scottish professional snooker player. Since turning professional in 1992, he has won 30 ranking titles, including four World Championships and three UK Championships, as well as two Masters titles. In terms of world titles in the modern era, Higgins is fifth behind Stephen Hendry (7), Steve Davis (6), Ray Reardon (6) and Ronnie O'Sullivan (6). His 30 career ranking titles puts him in third place behind Hendry (36) and O'Sullivan (37). Known as a prolific break-builder, he has compiled over 800 century breaks in professional tournaments, second only to O'Sullivan. He has also compiled 11 competitive maximum breaks tied with Hendry (11), placing him second behind O'Sullivan (15). Higgins has been world number 1 on four occasions.In 2010, the News of the World tabloid newspaper carried out a sting operation in a hotel room in Ukraine, which claimed to show Higgins and his then-manager arranging to lose specific frames in future matches for money. Although an investigation cleared Higgins of match-fixing allegations, it was found that he had brought the sport into disrepute by failing to report, and giving the impression of agreeing with, an invitation to breach the sport's betting rules. The WPBSA banned Higgins from professional competition for six months and fined him £75,000. He returned to the tour midway through the 2010–11 season. Higgins added a third UK Championship title in 2010 and claimed his fourth world title in 2011. He then experienced a slump in form, and between 2012 and 2014 only won the 2012 Shanghai Masters. He spoke frequently in this period about his struggles with confidence and consistency. However, in 2015, Higgins returned to winning ways, capturing three ranking titles. He reached three consecutive World Championship finals between 2017 and 2019, but lost to Mark Selby in 2017, to Mark Williams in 2018, and to Judd Trump in 2019.
With an HPI of 58.15, Alex Higgins is the 7th most famous British Snooker. His biography has been translated into 27 different languages.
Alexander Gordon Higgins (18 March 1949 – 24 July 2010) was a Northern Irish professional snooker player who is remembered as one of the most iconic figures in the game. Nicknamed Hurricane Higgins because of his fast play, he was World Champion in 1972 and 1982, and runner-up in 1976 and 1980. He won the UK Championship in 1983 and the Masters in 1978 and 1981, making him one of eleven players to have completed snooker's Triple Crown. He was also World Doubles champion with Jimmy White in 1984, and won the World Cup three times with the All-Ireland team. Higgins came to be known as the "People's Champion" because of his popularity, and is often credited with having brought the game of snooker to a wider audience, contributing to its peak in popularity in the 1980s. He had a reputation as an unpredictable and difficult character. He was a heavy smoker, struggled with drinking and gambling, and admitted to using cocaine and marijuana. First diagnosed with throat cancer in 1998, Higgins died of multiple causes in his Belfast home on 24 July 2010. Higgins still holds the highest break to win a World Championship, being 135 in the 1982 final against Ray Reardon.
With an HPI of 56.50, Mark Selby is the 8th most famous British Snooker. His biography has been translated into 43 different languages.
Mark Selby (born 19 June 1983) is an English professional snooker player and three-time World Snooker Champion. He has won 19 ranking titles, placing him joint seventh (with Neil Robertson) on the all-time list of ranking tournament wins. He has held the world number one position six times, having first topped the snooker world rankings in September 2011, and was ranked world number one for more than four years continuously between February 2015 and March 2019. Selby joined the main professional snooker tour in 1999 at the age of 16, after winning the England under-15 championship in 1998. He was runner-up to John Higgins at the 2007 World Snooker Championship, and has since won all of snooker's Triple Crown events at least twice, having won three Masters titles (2008, 2010, and 2013), two UK Championships (2012 and 2016), and three World Championships (2014, 2016, and 2017). He has also won the Welsh Open, the Shanghai Masters, the German Masters, the China Open (three times), the Paul Hunter Classic, the International Championship (twice), the China Championship, the European Masters, and three of the four Home Nations Series events. A prolific break-builder, Selby has compiled more than 600 century breaks in his professional career. His nickname, "The Jester from Leicester", was given to him by snooker compere Richard Beare. Selby is also a pool player; he was the 2006 World Eight-ball Pool Federation champion and runner-up at the Chinese Eight-ball World Championship in 2015.
With an HPI of 56.25, Mark Williams is the 9th most famous British Snooker. His biography has been translated into 34 different languages.
Mark James Williams, (born 21 March 1975) is a Welsh professional snooker player who is a three-time World Champion, winning in 2000, 2003, and 2018. Often noted for his single-ball long potting ability, Williams has earned the nickname "The Welsh Potting Machine". Williams has been ranked the world number one player for a total of three seasons in his career (1999–00, 2000–01, and 2002–03). His most successful season to date was 2002–03, when he won the acclaimed treble of tournaments (known as the Triple Crown): the UK Championship, the Masters, and the World Championship. In doing so, he became only the third player, after Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry, to win all three Triple Crown events in one season. In addition, he is the first player (and to date, the only player) to win all three versions of the professional World Championship – the World Snooker Championship, the Six-red World Championship and the World Seniors Championship. The first left-handed player to win the World Championship, Williams has won 22 ranking tournaments overall, including two UK Championships (1999 and 2002), making him fifth on the all-time list. He has also won the Masters on two occasions (1998 and 2003). His form began to decline after his second World Championship title in 2003; he then dropped out of the top 16 following the 2007–08 season, but he regained his place for 2009–10. Williams has compiled 486 century breaks during his career, as well as two maximum breaks in competition.
With an HPI of 56.04, John Pulman is the 10th most famous British Snooker. His biography has been translated into 18 different languages.
Herbert John Pulman (12 December 1923 – 25 December 1998) was an English professional snooker player who was the World Snooker Champion from 1957 to 1968. He won the title at the 1957 Championship, and retained it across seven challenges from 1964 to 1968, three of them against Fred Davis and two against Rex Williams. When the tournament reverted to a knockout event in 1969 he lost 18–25 in the first round to the eventual champion John Spencer, and he was runner-up to Ray Reardon in 1970. He never reached the final again, although he was a losing semi-finalist in 1977. Having won the English Amateur Championship in 1946, Pulman turned professional, and achieved three News of the World Snooker Tournament titles, in 1954, 1957, and 1958. He became a television commentator towards the end of his playing career, and retired from competitive play in 1981 after breaking his leg in a traffic accident. He died in 1998 after a fall down stairs at his home.
Pantheon has 45 people classified as snookers born between 1923 and 1991. Of these 45, 40 (88.89%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living snookers include Ronnie O'Sullivan, Stephen Hendry, and Steve Davis. The most famous deceased snookers include Alex Higgins, John Pulman, and Willie Thorne. As of October 2020, 7 new snookers have been added to Pantheon including Willie Thorne, Kyren Wilson, and Michael Holt.
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Which Snookers were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 5 most globally memorable Snookers since 1700.