Cliff Thorburn

The Grinder

1980 World Champion

Highest Pro Ranking

1 (1981/82)



Cliff Thorburn became the first player from outside of the UK to win the World Snooker Championship during the sport’s modern era in 1980.

Having turned professional in 1973, the man affectionately known as “The Grinder” because of his style of play, quickly established himself as one of the game’s leading players, reaching first World Championship final in 1977, followed by the Masters a year later.

His big breakthrough was to come two years later however, as he defeated rival Alex Higgins 18-16 to become world champion at the Crucible Theatre. Notwithstanding this success, perhaps his career-defining moment would come in 1983, as he became the first player to compile a maximum 147 break at the Crucible Theatre (and only the second ever) during his second round match against Terry Griffiths.

Away from Sheffield, Thorburn is a three-time Masters champion, having claimed the crown in 1983, 1985 and 1986, while back in his native Canada he is also a six-time national champion.

In 1981, Thorburn became only the second player to hold snooker’s world number one ranking, displacing Ray Reardon at the head of the list.

At the 2018 Seniors Masters, Thorburn defeated Jonathan Bagley 2-1 to claim the title at the Crucible, some 38 years on from his world title success.