Five-time world darts champion Eric Bristow has died aged 60 following a heart attack

Eric Bristow: A legend of darts
Eric Bristow: A legend of darts

Tributes are flooding in for five-time world darts champion Eric Bristow, who passed away on Thursday evening aged 60 following a heart attack.

Arguably the sport’s first superstar player, Bristow was world champion five times between 1980-1986 and also won five World Masters titles during an outstanding career.

The Professional Darts Corporation announced the passing of the 'Crafty Cockney' during Thursday night's Premier League fixture in Liverpool.

Immediately after the news broke, fans at the Echo Arena burst into a rendition of "There's only one Eric Bristow" as commentator Rod Studd stopped speaking.

Scroll down for tributes from the world of sport

We pay tribute to Eric Bristow in a special edition of the Sporting Life Darts Podcast
Click here to listen to a special tribute to Eric Bristow in the Sporting Life Darts Podcast

Bristow was one of the founder players when the PDC (then World Darts Council) was formed in 1993 as the sport's leading stars broke away from the British Darts Organisation.

The 60-year-old was inducted into the PDC Hall of Fame in 2005 alongside great rival John Lowe, and since retiring from competition at the end of 2007 remained a popular figure on the exhibition circuit.

Bristow also worked as a TV pundit and spotter for Sky Sports, was awarded the MBE for his services to sport in 1989 and appeared on ITV's "I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here" in 2012.

Eric Bristow was nicknamed the Crafty Cockney
Eric Bristow was nicknamed the Crafty Cockney

Born in east London on April 25 1957, Bristow later relocated to Staffordshire where he proved instrumental in the development of the Phil Taylor as a sponsor and mentor during the early stages of the eventual 16-time World Champion's career.

Taylor went on to defeat Bristow in the 1990 World Championship final, while a 6-0 defeat to Dennis Priestley the following year proved to be his last appearance in a televised final. His final World Championship, in 2000, was his 23rd of an illustrious career which saw him win over 70 professional titles in total.

In 1989, he married Jane Bristow with whom he had two children, Louise in 1991 and James in 1993.

Eric Bristow put darts on the map in the 1980s
Eric Bristow put darts on the map in the 1980s

Bristow’s subsequent battle against dartitis was overcome briefly when he reached the semi-finals of the 1997 PDC World Championship, and after making intermittent appearances on the circuit in the following years he competed for a final time on the PDC circuit in 2007.

Eric Bristow with another darting legend Bobby George
Eric Bristow with another darting legend Bobby George

Tributes flood in for Eric Bristow

The world of sport have come together to pay tribute to British icon Eric Bristow, who revolutionised darts during the 1980s.

He not only helped it transcend popular culture but was also one of the most influential driving forces behind making it the success story it is today.

Here's just a selection of quotes and tweets from those paying their respects...

PDC Chairman Barry Hearn: "Eric will always be a legend in the world of darts and British sport. He was a tremendous player and a huge character and even after his retirement fans would travel for miles to meet him and see him play.

"Eric was never afraid of controversy, but he spoke as he found and was honest and straightforward which is what people admired about him. The PDC, and the sport of darts, will miss him.”

Keith Deller, the 1983 world champion - beating Bristow in that final - said on stage: "I am devastated. Me and Eric were together all the time. What he has done for our game, I mean if it wasn't for Eric nobody would be here tonight.

"It is a massive loss to our sport. He said what he thought and it was his honest opinion. Everyone loved Eric for that. When he was playing darts, in our day, he had the self belief to win every tournament.

"It was a long time ago when I won the World Championship. To beat Eric in the final, it could not have been any better for me. If you look at the stars we have had in Britain, Eric Bristow would be at the top. It is a very sad night. He is one of the best friends I have ever had in my life."

Wayne Mardle, who is now a commentator, said: "I would never have picked up a dart without Eric Bristow. Eric will go down like an absolute superstar of sport. From all walks of life, people know who Eric Bristow was. He had that star quality. Not many people had that. They can show off and think they had it, but Eric had it."

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