It is said that professional sportspeople die twice: first when their career ends and again when they draw their last breath. As with real life, the end of a sportsperson’s career is less likely to be sudden than more of a drawn-out affair. For Stephen Hendry, his unedifying defeat by Stephen Maguire at the Crucible on Tuesday was the last stirrings of a sporting career in terminal decline. By Hendry’s own admission, he had been descending the “slow, slippery slope” for the best part of 10 years. Even when he was making his 11th career 147 against Stuart Bingham last week and savaging defending champion John Higgins in the second round, Hendry, the perfectionist’s perfectionist, knew he was nowhere near to being back to his best. “Did I really play that well?” he said. “I don’t think so.” Different sports allow their legends to age with different levels of dignity. When a footballer’s legs go, they have no option but to quit. When a tennis player burns out, they either quit or they fast disappear from the rankings. But the non-athletic nature of snooker means its legends invariably play on: stalking past glories, ...