Then and Now: Tony Meo
We continue our look back at some of the greatest snooker names from the past - this week Tony Meo, one of two famous players to hail from Tooting.
Name: Tony Meo
Nickname: The Cat - 'Meo, Meo'
Nationality: English (Born in Tooting, London)
Date of birth: 04/10/1959
Highest Ranking: 10
Career highlights: National U19 champion 1978; Australian Masters champion 1981, 1985; World doubles champion 1982, 1983, 1985, 1986; World team classic champion 1983; English Professional champion 1986, 1987; British Open champion 1989.
At the age of 17, Meo became the youngest person to make a 147, with the record standing until Ronnie O'Sullivan stepped in to break it. Meo was a school friend of Jimmy White, and the Tooting pair were notorious for skipping studies to play together down at their local snooker club.
The son of Italian parents, Meo was the national U19 champion before he turned professional in 1979, but was thereafter often perceived to be living uncomfortably in the shadow of his great friend White.
Meo was also involved in the classic Chas and Dave song 'Snooker Loopy', which reached number six in the charts in May 1986, along with fellow players Steve Davis, Dennis Taylor, Willie Thorne, and Terry Griffiths.
The left-hander enjoyed a bumper year in 1989 when he triumphed at the British Open, then reached the semi-finals of the World Championships at the Crucible in the space of a few months.
Having qualified for the Crucible earlier that season, Meo went on to defeat Joe Johnson, Eddie Charlton and Dean Reynolds again to reach the semi-finals, before he finally faltered against John Parrott, losing 16-9.
Meo was also a hugely accomplished doubles player, and partnered Steve Davis to four world titles, with the first coming in 1982, while twice reaching the last four of the UK Championships, the Masters at Wembley, and the Professional Players tournament.
In 1989 Meo clinched his solitary singles ranking win at the British Open as a 200-1 outsider. He defeated Mark Bennett, Colin Roscoe, Stephen Hendry, Peter Francisco, Mike Hallett and Reynolds to clinch victory at the tournament in the most unlikely circumstances.
Meo was determined to end his career on a high, but it all petered out with barely a whimper as he despondently slumped outside the main tour rankings in a desperately poor 1996-97 season. It was a sad and dispiriting end to the career of a hugely talented and widely popular player.
Meo retired from the professional game in 1997 and now runs a watch and jewellery shop in Hatton Garden. The former world number 10 has actively shunned all attempts to get him back involved in tournaments, and his enthusiasm for playing the sport has clearly waned quite considerably.
Meo now earns a living selling watches and jewellery, but continues to take a keen interest in the game, albeit from a relatively detached view. The Englishman will always be in demand in terms of punditry and even playing opportunities, but looks set to enjoy life away from the game and the public eye.