Snooker legend Willie Thorne dies aged 66 after being placed in induced coma and respiratory failure

Snooker legend Willie Thorne has died after he was diagnosed with acute monoblastic leukaemia.

Thorne, 66, who announced he was battling leukaemia in March, had been placed into an induced coma in hospital in Spain over the weekend after suffering respiratory failure.

According to a GoFundMe page set up to support Thorne and his family, he “passed away very peacefully” and “listening to his children saying they love him”.

The fundraising page organiser, Thorne’s carer Julie O’Neill, wrote: “It is with a very heavy and broken heart that I have to officially announce that at 1.55am this morning Willie Thorne lost his battle and passed away.

“Willie went into septic shock and was not responding to any treatment so the decision was made by the hospital to turn off the machines.

“I was with him all the way to his end and reading out messages to him from people.

“He passed away very peacefully and without pain listening to his children saying they love him.️

"That gives me some comfort in this difficult time.”

Tributes have been made for Willie Thorne. Credit: PA

Thorne, who had lived in Broughton Astley in Leicestershire, moved to Spain earlier after announcing he was battling leukaemia in March this year.

He was taken to hospital last week with dangerously low blood pressure.

The GoFundMe page has raised around £20,000 and tributes have come pouring in.

Leicester City, his hometown football club, tweeted: "The thoughts of everyone at Leicester City are with snooker legend and Foxes fan Willie Thorne and his family."

Former England striker Gary Lineker, who played for Leicester City, described Thorne as "one of life's great characters".

He tweeted: "Deeply, deeply saddened to hear that my friend Willie Thorne has passed away.

"One of life’s great characters. A marvellous snooker player and a lovely man, who’s potted his final black much too soon. RIP Willie."

World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn said: “I had the pleasure of managing the Great WT as part of the Matchroom team in the 1980s.

"He was a larger than life personality and he was a major part of the rebirth of snooker at that time.

"It’s so sad to hear he has passed away and our thoughts are with his family.”

He reached two World Championship quarter-finals and won his only ranking title, the Mercantile Credit Classic, in 1982.

He later commentated on the sport for the BBC, and appeared on the fifth series of Strictly Come Dancing.

Thorne was hailed as "great company" by Sky Sports presenter Jeff Stelling.

"To wake to the news of the death of Willie Thorne today is simply terrible. I spent many many hours with him," Mr Stelling said.

"He was a charming man, great company, a brilliant player and commentator and, of course, always immaculately turned out. He has gone far too soon."

Current snooker professional Mike Dunn said: "RIP Willie Thorne, you did a huge amount for snooker on and off the table and it was a pleasure to call you a friend."