Former BDO world darts champion Andy Fordham has died at the age of 59.
Fordham, nicknamed ‘The Viking’, won the tournament at the Lakeside 17 years ago, after four previous semi-final defeats.
The one-time Kent publican admitted to drinking heavily during matches and collapsed at the 2007 event.
But despite battling a number of health issues he played in the 2015 Grand Slam of Darts after coming through qualifying.
A statement on the BDO website said: “The British Darts Organisation is deeply saddened to hear of the loss of the darts legend Andy (The Viking) Fordham, a true gentleman of the game who will be deeply missed by all.
“Our hearts and thoughts are with his family at this time.”
Two-time BDO world finalist Bobby George was among those to pay tribute on Twitter.
“Just heard the devastating news that Andy Fordham has passed away. He was a gentle giant and loved by all,” he said.
“Our condolences go out to his wife Jenny family and friends. RIP Andy Fordham the Viking.”
Fordham, who required a life-saving bowel operation in 2020 and was diagnosed with coronavirus at the start of this year, beat Mervyn King 6-3 in the BDO world final in 2004.
After a health scare in 2007 when doctors told Fordham his liver was 75% dead, he enrolled on reality TV show Celebrity Fit Club.
He joined the Professional Darts Corporation in 2009, but the Bristol-born player later returned to the BDO.
He qualified for the Grand Slam of Darts in 2015, in which he claimed a first televised win in 10 years over Wayne Jones.