Welsh snooker legend Doug Mountjoy has died at the age of 78.
The two-time UK champion, who was born in Tir y Berth, passed away on Sunday (February 14).
A former coal miner in Ebbw Vale, Mountjoy played snooker at an amateur level before turning professional aged 34.
He won two Welsh amateur titles in 1968 and 1976, and became the amateur world champion in 1976.
He turned professional aged 34, and was invited to compete in the Masters tournament in 1977 after another player withdrew from the competition.
Mountjoy seized his opportunity – beating four former world champions on his way to winning the competition.
The following year, he won his first UK Championship trophy, as well at the Pot Black competition.
In 1979, he won the Irish Masters.
Two years later, Mountjoy finished as runner-up to Steve Davis at the 1981 World Championship.
He won his second UK Championship trophy in 1988, aged 46, before winning the final of the Mercantile Credit Classic in 1989.
The following year, he reached fifth on the world rankings – his highest ever position.
In 1993, Mountjoy was diagnosed with lung cancer and had one of his lungs removed. He continued to play professionally until 1997, before moving into coaching.
He spent time in the United Arab Emirates, coaching in Dubai, before moving back home to coach in Wales.
Canadian retired snooker player Cliff Thorburn, who was a friend of Mountjoy’s, paid tribute and said: “He was a true champion and gentleman. He had all the shots and the heart of a lion.
“You knew he was in the room by his laughter and I spent many a happy time with Doug. My sympathies to his family and friends.”
In a joint statement, World Snooker Tour chairman Barry Hearn OBE and World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association chairman Jason Ferguson said: “Doug was a first and foremost a lovely man, who had great friendships with many players on the tour throughout the 1970s and onwards.
“He had a fantastic dedication to our sport; he simply loved the game and was always willing to help others to improve, both as a player and later as a coach.
“On the table he was a fierce competitor and a fine champion who won a multitude of tournaments. His revival late in his career to win two events including the UK Championship was an incredible achievement.
“Doug will be sadly missed by everyone who knew him, and our sincere condolences go to his family.”
Former snooker world champion Dennis Taylor said: “Just heard the sad news of the passing of one of our legends. Doug Mountjoy a very special Welshman. RIP my dear friend.”
Reigning world seniors champion Jimmy White also paid tribute, and said: “Sorry to hear about the loss of a great legend of the sport. RIP Doug Mountjoy.”
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