Jimmy ‘Whirlwind’ White reveals why snooker public loves him ahead of German Masters bid – ‘I touched the nation a bit’

Jimmy ‘Whirlwind’ White has explained why the British public have taken him to their hearts since he turned professional in 1980.

The snooker icon lifted the Masters in 1984 and UK Championship in 1992, but is best remembered by millions for agonisingly losing six world finals inside a decade to Steve Davis (1984), John Parrott (1991) and four times to Stephen Hendry (1990, 1992, 1993 and 1994).

It is famously said that the British public love a loser. There was nobody more loved by millions than White back in the day.

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Yet at the evergreen age of 60, failing to lift the world title has hardly dampened his enthusiasm for the green baize.

White qualified for the final stages of the UK Championship in November and meets Chinese talent Peng Yisong on Wednesday night in the last 32 of the German Masters in Berlin LIVE on Eurosport.

The revitalised Londoner has his own thoughts on why the fans embraced him in a similar way to his close friends and fellow crowd-pleasers Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins and world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan.

“I think three things: one is that I’ve always had time for everybody, I’ve never knocked anyone back for an autograph or a picture,” he said on the World Snooker Tour podcast.

“Two, I think I was graceful in defeat. I never complained or moaned. I think I touched the nation a bit there, as a good friend explained to me. And it was right because there were only four TV channels in those days.

“And I think the last one was because of my style of play. I’ve reined it in a bit, but I used to go for a lot of shots. You find that people went on the roller coaster with me.

“I’ve had a fantastic life,” he added. “I’ve watched the Rolling Stones make an album, I’ve made tea for the Rolling Stones and had the Rolling Stones play at my 50th birthday.

“I’ve got incredible friends around the world and I’m enjoying my game.”

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White continues to follow in the footsteps of the late Higgins, the original ‘People’s Champion’ and ultimate sporting hell-raiser who sprinkled the table with gold dust during the televised boom period of the 1980s.

“There was nobody more pleased than me when Alex Higgins won the 1982 world final,” said White. “He was the first sportsman to bring a baby onto television.

“Everybody does it now in golf and it was fantastic to see. He was my hero.

“We travelled the world together. The most enjoyable times I had with Alex Higgins were when we’d go to a town, find the best tables and go and practise all day together.

Alex Higgins

Image credit: Eurosport

“That was my greatest time with me hero. Higgins was very intelligent. He could do a Times crossword in 10 minutes, but he wasn’t very streetwise.

“I looked after him. A lot of people tried to be his friend, but he lost his temper. As he got on in life, through too much drinking, he got a bit aggressive and he wasn’t practising.

“It was horrible to see through to the end, but make no mistake, Alex Higgins made the game popular.”

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