White and Hendry’s rivalry was always a friendly one – the Scot had practised with White, six years his senior, when he was just 13, and left an indelible impression even then.
“I knew he was something special straight away and he became one of the greatest players the game has seen,” White added. “I played the majority of my best years against legends, two of the best ever in Steve Davis and Stephen. Steve was a bit more conservative at the table.
“And then there was this fantastic potter Stephen that came along and I had to compete against both. We have had so many battles not only at the World Championship but throughout our careers. And to draw each other at this stage of our careers is very bizarre.”
Either player would need to win four matches to get back to the Crucible. Hendry’s last appearance was in 2012, while White has not got to Sheffield since 2006, but the Londoner’s head is still spinning that fate has taken a hand, and given him a chance of some revenge so late in his career.
“I didn’t even see the draw announced on TV this week, or see it in any email,” he said. “I had just finished practising, turned my phone on and I saw that I had two missed calls from Stephen.
“That on its own wasn’t too strange because we had been practising together recently. But I started thinking he wouldn’t call me twice so quickly like that to arrange a session.
“So I started to suspect what might have happened. I called him back, he said ‘Can you believe that’, and then I knew.
“It is absolutely bizarre, something from the snooker gods for sure. It is one that a lot of people might enjoy and look forward to.
“My closing line to him was that we wouldn’t be having a practice together before that match. But for me, I have found a bit of form and whoever I played, that is what I would be taking into it.
“I know that I will be playing him Tuesday week, and it is all about being ready for that. I haven’t stopped practising for about two or three years now. I’m much more disciplined than I used to be.”