Willie Thorne pleaded Barry Hearn after gambling issues

Snooker player Willie Thorne was hounded by loan sharks in the years before his death.

The tragic star had got himself into deep trouble after racking up gambling debts. Sports promoter Barry Hearn has revealed Willie begged him to help, so he gave her £25,000 to pay them off.

The 73-year-old, inset, said: ‘He came to me for help in 2017 when he explained that he had serious problems with some overbearing people who wanted to pay. He asked me for a £25,000 loan and promised he would pay it back at the end of the World Championship on his BBC commentator’s fee.

“I wrote him a check and as I handed it to him I said, ‘Willie, we both know I’ll never see this again, which is fine, but that’s the last time you’ll get a penny from me.’

“Of course Willie claimed it was only a short term loan and handed me a check dated the last day of the World Championship. That check is always bouncing somewhere.

“Actually it was a good decision in the long run as Willie has come time and time again for other loans and I could tell I told you I will never loan you a dime again. A great player and missed a lot, but a very weak person.

Barry Hearn was in charge of snooker when Willie Thorne was playing

“Fighting fires when players were in trouble was a big part of my role, especially with Jimmy White.”

Nicknamed “Mr Maximum” in his pomp, Thorne was 66 when he died two years ago after battles for his health. But Barry said in his new book My Life that Thorne was ruined by becoming addicted to bookmakers.

He said: “Willie was such a lovely man, but like all drug addicts he never told himself the truth and he ran up debts with just about everyone. It wasn’t like he was good at the game. He once said, “You know, in a one-horse race, I’d finish second.” “

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