It is likely that in the time it takes to list the achievements of the brilliant Stephen Hendry, The Golden Boy could clock up yet another maximum; such is the breadth of his exploits during his 26-year professional career.

His 11 career 147s, three of which came at the Crucible, the seven world titles and nine years spent at World No.1 are just the tip of iceberg when it comes to the accomplishments of Hendry the brave.

Arguably, along with Sir Chris Hoy and the late Colin McRae, the greatest sportsman to come out of Scotland in the last 20 years, Hendry in the 90s produced as dominant a spell in snooker as we are ever likely to see. Only Steve Davis, who reached eight world finals in nine years during the 80s can argue to have had a more a sustained period of dominance.

In a game whose history is littered with characters among its mundane individuals, Hendry is very much old hat in snooker terms. While the modern day game will have thrived on the personality of Alex Higgins, the early days of the sport will have suited Hendry's ice cool demeanour. He's the Frank Sinatra to Judd Trump's Calvin Harris.

Stephen Hendry
Hendry won seven world titles in his 26-year career.

His playing style also represents that of a bygone era. A genuinely brilliant break builder at his best and in his early days, a solid long-potter. That style has been somewhat exposed in his later years, as his accuracy began to waver.

The history books will keep Hendry's legacy in the game intact, at least until the unlikely event that someone surpasses his seven world titles, but his standing in the game may have been affected by an alarming slump in the twilight of his career.

The last event Hendry won that still exists today was nine years ago, his last appearance in any final five years ago and his last world title 13 years ago. For a man who has thrived on winning from the moment he first held a cue, he failed to recapture the habit of a lifetime during his later days.

In the season's big three tournaments, from his last 15 starts, Hendry has been knocked out in the first round seven times, and the second round four times. On just three occassions has he reached at least the quarter finals, including during this year as he succumbed to Stephen Maguire.

In the Masters, an event he won on six occasions, five on the bounce from 1989-1993, he's exited the competition in the first round seven times since the season of his last world title win.

Despite such dour form coming into the Crucible fortnight, Hendry was adamant, perhaps giddy with excitement following his win over four-time world champion John Higgins, that he could still win the year's title.

Clearly drunk on the high of victory over Higgins, his dramatic backtrack in his press conference where he announced his impending retirement shows his front was simply glowing pride, rather than foolish optimism

Amid his dire form on the baize, Hendry's remarkable consistency meant he this season had to qualify for the World Championships for the first time for 24 years, having maintained a top 16 place throughout the core of his career.

You can sift through as many statistics as you like, but the true acid test of a player comes in sustaining a place in the holy grail that is top 16. Having now dropped out of that elite group, Hendry clearly feels his year-upon-year competitiveness comes before his ability to challenge at individual major tournaments; a strange U-turn for a player who is known for having an unhealthy obsession with winning.

In the same way Sir Bobby Robson's kindness of heart and gracious manner or Brian Clough's unique character will see them held in the same esteem as the much decorated Sir Alex Ferguson, Hendry will consistently have to live with the shadow of one Ronnie O'Sullivan, whose brand of snooker has seen him labelled the most naturally talented player of all time, in the debate over the sport's greatest competitor.

With the Rocket already on as many 147s as Hendry, nine of which came at the Crucible, and with the fastest maximum safely in his back pocket, only the record of rankings titles, standing at 36, and world title wins, can see him surpass the Scot. Until then, Hendry's ice cool frame stands alone.