Snooker icon lifeless at 61 after ‘actual character’ has tragic accident at his house

Snooker legend Dene O’Kane has died aged 61 following an accident in his native New Zealand.

O’Kane was a huge star in New Zealand as he thrilled sporting fans with his run to the quarter-finals of the World Snooker Championship in 1987. He would then repeat the feat in 1992 – but he was dumped out at that stage on both occasions.

According to local media, O’Kane fell at his home earlier this week, and he passed away in hospital on Tuesday (15 May). And tributes have poured in for the snooker star on social media.

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“Sad to hear of the passing of Dene O’Kane, New Zealand’s greatest ever player and twice WC quarter-finalist. An elegant, articulate, thoughtful man,” one fan said. While a second shared: “I’m waking up to the awfully sad news of the passing of Dene O’Kane. One of the good guys.”

“Rest in peace Dene O’Kane, a terrific player and fine ambassador for snooker, deepest sympathies to his family and friends,” a third posted. And another added: “He was the greatest snooker player New Zealand has produced and a very popular figure in the game.”

Dene O'Kane
Dene O’Kane was a star in his native New Zealand

O’Kane’s peak in the rankings would be No.18 in 91/92, and he would remain in the top 32 until 1996. However, it would be nine more years until he put down his cue in 2007.

He would never truly walk away from the game, playing snooker as a senior and featured in exhibition tournaments all over the world. O’Kane would juggle this with his new job as an estate agent.

“I remember talking to Dennis Taylor and he was going on about how much he admired Dene,” his secretary, Bernie Endres, told the New Zealand Herald following O’Kane’s death.

“He talked of how difficult it was for those guys in the UK to break through to the pro circuit let alone for someone from a country at the bottom of the planet. Someone who had left home at his age, with no money to survive and to make it on the pro-circuit.”