Andy Fordham dead at 59: Former world darts champion 'Viking' passes away as Adrian Lewis leads tributes

DARTS legend Andy Fordham has passed away at the age of 59.

A favourite of the British darts circuit, the Viking won the 2004 BDO World Darts Championship during a prestigious career.

The Bristol-born thrower entered the scene with a run to the BDO semi-finals in 1995 before finally claiming the trophy nine years later, following a stunning semi-final comeback victory over Raymond van Barneveld.

He beat Mervyn King in the final to add the world crown to his 1999 Masters title.

That set up a Sky Box Office encounter with PDC champion Phil Taylor, which saw Fordham retire mid-game due to health concerns.

Fordham once weighed 31 stone and downed 25 bottles of lager a day before tackling his health issues.

Despite shedding the pounds and battling, his darts career began to slump and he took time off to re-hone his skills.

Fordham's final tournament came in March 2018 with a failed attempt at qualifying for the Masters.

Last year, the Viking was hospitalised with a bowel blockage before he was struck by coronavirus.

Fordham even revealed his dream of returning to the oche once again.

But, on Thursday, it was confirmed that he had passed away with wife Jenny by his side.

Tributes have flooded in for the oche star from across the sport.

Fellow former world champ Adrian Lewis tweeted: "Sad to hear the passing of a legend Andy Fordham our thoughts are with his family."

Lewis famously faced Fordham on his 2015 comeback at the Grand Slam of Darts, in which the Viking hit a 180 with his first three darts before succumbing to defeat.

Glen Durrant posted a photo of himself with Fordham in his tribute, and commented: "RIP Andy Fordham #Legend."

Chris Dobey also tweeted a selfie with the Viking, tweeting: "Absolutely devastated to hear of the passing of this Legend, it was an absolute pleasure to have worked and shared a stage with a true gent. Will be such a miss to all involved with darts. RIP Andy Fordham."

Bobby George stated: "Just heard the devastating news that Andy Fordham has passed away. He was a gentle giant and loved by all. Our condolences go out to his wife Jenny family and friends. RIP ANDY FORDHAM THE VIKING."

Steve Beaton posted online: "So very saddened to hear of the passing away of Andy Fordham. Not only a great friend but a sporting legend who I had the pleasure of knowing for many a year. Our thoughts are with Jenny and the family. RIP my friend."

Kevin Painter wrote: "Absolutely devastated to hear the news that Andy Fordham has passed away,a darting legend and one of the nicest guys on the planet,thoughts are with the family at this time.. RIP Andy."

Matthew Edgar added: "Sad to see the passing of a legend today. RIP Andy Fordham."

World championship darts referee Huw Ware posted online: "Very sorry to hear of Andy Fordham’s passing. He was an outstanding dart player, a World Champion and a lovely, gentleman who was always a pleasure to work with. Condolences to all of his family and friends."

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