Jimmy White’s professional career will continue for two more years at least after he accepted a tour wildcard from snooker supermo Barry Hearn.
Hearn’s tour invitation – to coincide with 40 years of the world championship at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre – ensures White will continue to enthral his legion of fans in the twilight of his career as the game’s elder statesman.
It’s an unlikely mantle for a player with a wild past but one who the sport’s governing body realised still has an important part to play in its future.
The Whirlwind, 54, and 1997 world champion Ken Doherty were the beneficiaries of Hearn’s benevolence.
White accepted his wildcard during a special televised Crucible 40th anniversary ceremony, with Hearn in the audience looking on.
“I’m definitely going to be playing for the next couple of years,” confirmed White.
“I haven’t won the world championship, but I’m not finished yet. This is such a great place for snooker.
“I’ve seen snooker go from the top in the 80s to a small decline in the 90s, but now it’s in the best shape ever and to be a young professional now, it’s the greatest game to be in.”
White’s 37-year professional career appeared to be over when he failed to qualify for this year’s world championship.
The six-times runner-up wrote his name into Crucible history in his pursuit of the world crown – seeing his dream dashed by greats Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and John Parrott.
The world title is the only prize missing from his glittering CV, which includes the world amateur title and Benson and Hedges Masters.
White amassed ten major titles during a colourful career – the UK crown in 1992 the pinnacle of his achievements, establishing him as one of the most recognisable faces in British sport.
His tour invitation means he can side-step snooker’s Q school in the summer and look forward to pitting his wits against a new crop of tour snooker talent – most not born when his quick fire game first burst onto TV screens in 1981.