Hendry: Losing hurts as much as it ever did

World number six Stephen Hendry has been chatting at length ahead of his 40th birthday next week on a variety of subjects. Click below for an interesting chat with the seven-times world champion…

Click here to view the interview at The Scotsman:

On his upcoming birthday and the early days of his career:

“Just a day like any other, just a number”

“I’m not one for parties anyway, but the wife and I might take a couple of days in London later in the month”

“I came into snooker at absolutely the perfect time,”

“The boom on TV had already started, the money was bigger then that it is now and the profile of the sport was huge. There were big characters like Dennis Taylor doing his trick shots, John Parrott’s banter, John Virgo doing his impressions, and Alex Higgins on the rampage.

“People remember those days like they were yesterday. I’m always being asked what happened to Werbeniuk and Stevens and those guys, but those same people could run into players in the street ranked in the top four in the world and they probably wouldn’t recognise them.”

On his current form:

“It’s hard to be bullish when I haven’t won a tournament for four or five years”

“I still think I’m good enough to win tournaments and still look forward to the buzz,”

“Wembley’s the second-biggest event after the world championship so if you can’t get a buzz from that then maybe it’s time to stop. I still know that on my day I’m good enough and I wouldn’t bother turning up if I didn’t believe that. There have been times when I’ve thought ‘that’s it, I’m giving up’ but then you wake up the next day and say ‘right, that’s just being silly’ and get back to the practice table.”

On the pain of losing being greater than the joy of winning:

“It was always about the winning,”

“When I look back I hardly ever remember the matches I won, but I remember every one that I lost because of a bad shot. Sometimes I’ll look back and cringe at shots I’ve played or shots I’ve missed. I look back at certain matches – like the loss in the final frame to Peter Ebdon at the world championship (in 2002] – and it still really hurts.

“Being such a bad loser has been a massive ingredient in the success that I’ve had. I see people taking losses a lot better than me and sometimes I think I should try to be like that, but it’s not me: I hate it. Even now I expect to win every time I go out. Unfortunately I haven’t mellowed at all. If anything I’m getting worse. You can’t sulk around the place when you’ve got a family, but inside it hurts as much as it ever did.”

On the modern players:

“I’ve seen lots of change, especially in the way the game is played and a lot of that change is down to the way I played when I came into the game,”

“I went for everything, safety was a bad word to me, I couldn’t even spell it, and that’s the way the game’s played now. Guys just go for it and the number of century breaks you see now is so much higher than it was back in 1985 when you saw very few century breaks on television and certainly nowhere near as many as you do now.”

On the development of snooker and the mistakes made regarding the Altium deal a few years ago:

“It’s come full circle and the guys who resisted change have now realised the implications. John Higgins is trying to set up something and those guys have come around to the ideas we put forward years ago. It’s still annoying they turned it down and there was a lot of bullshit bandied around, a lot of lies told, but there was bad feeling in the game at that stage and it was all about the personalities rather than what was right for the game.”

On the match-fixing rumours:

“[I did not see the match] although like pretty much everyone else I rushed off and watched one or two of the more interesting shots on YouTube”.

“If that [the allegations] is proved to be correct then obviously everyone involved should be banned from the game for life.”

On Scottish football:

“If any Scottish team was playing in my back garden I wouldn’t go and watch them. Scottish football is so bad these days I can’t bear to watch it”

It is not often that you get to read such a long interview with one of snooker’s greatest players these days so it is interesting to hear Stephen’s thoughts on a number of different subjects like this. In particular his comments on the Altium deal and the role of John Higgins with the new World Series raise a smile!

What I personally like to hear most though is his attitude to winning and losing, how the defeat to Peter Ebdon in the 2002 is still what really hurts and so on, because that just shows how driven he is to succeed and why he is the great champion that he is.

Hendry plays Neil Robertson on Wednesday in his first match as a forty year old…