Northern Ireland-born Alexander Higgins, on March 18 1949, in Belfast; died on July 24 2010. Better known as Alex the Hurricane, Higgins was a Northern Ireland professional snooker player who was twice world champion and double world runner-up. Although Northern Irishman Alexander Higgins was a five-time champion in Ireland professionally, winning 24 professional titles over a span of 19 years, including the British championships in 1983, there was no prominence for him at Championships following 1972. Although Snooker player Alex Higgins was a five-time Irish professional champion and won 24 professional titles over 19 years, including the British Championships in 1983, a lack of outstanding ranked tournament success beyond becoming world number one in 1982 suggests that he was less successful a player than some of his contemporaries. Most people will remember the Northern Irishman Alexander Higgins as a former snooker player, dubbed the Hurricane because of the pace at which he played, who became a sports superstar.

Snooker legend Alex Higgins was a temperamental character, firmly established as one of snooker’s most extraordinary personalities. Still, that persona denied him a chance to be one of the sport’s best players. In 1989, Snooker legend Alex Higgins broke some bones after falling through a window trying to flee from his home into a casino, then won the Ireland Pro Championship shortly after that, epitomising his enormous talent, which was riddled with off-the-table antics. By the time the snooker player Alex Higgins was 16, he had amassed his first top-shelf smash of 147. By 1968, he had confirmed his budding talent by becoming All-Ireland and Northern Ireland Amateur Snooker Champions.

In 1968, entertainer Alexander Gordon Higgins won the All-Ireland and Northern Ireland amateur snooker championships. Higgins turned professional at age 22, winning the world championship on his first try in 1972, defeating John Spencer, 37-32. Nicknamed the Hurricane Higgins for his rapid playing, he was World champion in 1972 and 1982 and runners-up in 1976 and 1980.

Higgins, like many of his colleagues, drank and smoked between tournaments. Because of his explosive temper, he was frequently involved in confrontations and disagreements on and off the snooker table. Among the most severe fights occurred in 1986, after he head-butted a game official during an altercation at the UK championship. Higgins was fined £12,000 and barred from competing in five tournaments due to the incident, and he was also charged with assault and criminal damage and penalized £250 by a court.

Due to his popularity, Higgins became known as the “People’s Champion,” and he is widely credited for introducing snooker to a larger public, adding to the game’s peak celebrity status in the 1980s. He had a character for being unexpected and challenging. He smoked heavily, suffered from alcohol and gambling, and allegedly took cocaine and marijuana. Higgins died of many reasons at his Belfast residence on July 24, 2010, after being infected with throat cancer in 1998.