Alexander Gordon Higgins 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 became the first qualifier to win the world title in 1972, a feat only two players have achieved since – Terry Griffiths in 1979 and Shaun Murphy in 2005. 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.