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Stephen Hendry opens up on the secret condition that ended his illustrious career

Mirror logo Mirror 03/09/2018 Aaron Flanagan
Stephen Hendry looking at the camera © Credits: Daily Mirror

Stephen Hendry is the most successful snooker player of our generation.

The seven-time world champion is ahead of the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan, Alex Higgins and Steve Davis in the green baize pantheon.

But his career has not always been plain sailing, as he reveals as he tells his amazing life story in a new autobiography Me and the Table, serialised exclusively in the Mirror.

The book tells of all his winning highs, as well as the lows when life snookered him.

In this extract, Hendry opens up on the condition that destroyed his game - and how it means he will not be able to return to the table now....

© Credits: Publicity Picture

"I can’t overstate the part the yips played in bringing my career to a close. I think the word yips trivialises it; it is completely debilitating, like a cancer spreading through your game and just destroying it.

"It affects golfers, causing them to struggle with what should be simple putts. In my case, the inability to cue ‘through’ the ball results in weak shots.

"There is a debate about whether the yips is a physical or psychological condition, or a mixture of both.

a man in a suit and tie © Credits: Allsport

Stephen Hendry in a green shirt © Credits: PA

"In around 2000 I became aware of a recurring problem of the ‘tightness’ around my cueing action, which somehow stops me believing that I can play the shot - even shots I could previously play with my eyes shut.

"Even though I say to myself that I was seven-times World Champion, the voice in my head says, ‘You can’t play this shot.’, It’s completely mental – quite literally. My confidence is sapped every time this happens.

"Before, I could play every shot in the game. Now, I feel that it is nothing less than a handicap that creates difficulties during matches. I can’t dominate matches and I’m finding it very hard to win anything.

a group of people posing for the camera © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited

"It’s like trying to paint without ever using red, or write without using the letter ‘s’. It took away a major part of what I could do as a player and to this day there are shots I can’t play properly because I’m not hitting the ball correctly.

"I always loved playing in front of big audiences; now I’m jittery if one person is in the room watching me.

"However much I try, I can’t shake off the effects of the yips. For me, it’s a psychological difficulty that has translated into a physical one and although I’d love to play more snooker I really don’t think there is a way back for me now."

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