Stephen Hendry has opened the door to the possibility of a Crucible Theatre return by signing up for revamped World Seniors Championship in March.

The record seven-time world champion retired from professional competition five years ago after a glittering and trophy-laden career.

But Hendry, now 48, admits that watching so much snooker from the studio and commentary box for television has got his juices flowing again.

And he will be one of eight legends in the draw, alongside John Parrott, Cliff Thorburn, Dennis Taylor, Joe Johnson and Willie Thorne, for the tournament to be staged in Scunthorpe in March.

Crucially the winner, as well as the £10,000 first prize, will automatically receive a place in the World Championship qualifiers – just three victories from the Crucible.

And that golden ticket is also being thrown open to any amateur over 40 paying £100 and playing off in heats for one of four spots to join the legends.

Current tour members older than 40 were in the past controversially included in the Seniors, but professionals have now been kicked out.

Amateur winners of four regional qualifying events will go up against the famous names in what Hendry sees as a potential ‘Rocky’-style scenario.

And should they lift the trophy that would see them at the same stage as the player ranked No17 in the world – three wins from the game’s most famous stage.

Hendry, who will also co-promote the event, said: “The last year or so I have missed playing snooker a bit more – maybe it is all the TV work I have done making we want to compete.

“I have no intention of coming back on the tour full time, but I want to play more.

“The Seniors has had a revamp and gone back to nostalgia, plus a chance for amateurs to have their day. In the past tour professionals aged 40 or more were allowed to play.

“You had people like Mark Williams who were top 16 players on tour, and it should be a unique event apart from the tour.

“And maybe that put some of the former high-profile players off from entering. I and John Parrot are not going to compete with top tour pros.

“People get a chance to see players they remember, rather than the same players they see every week.

“And the new format combines legends from the past with a great chance for amateurs over 40 to pay £100 to enter a qualifier, with the carrot for the Seniors winner of a place in the World Championship.

“It will be serious because we don’t like losing, and the most competitive event I have played in since 2013 and the Seniors in Portsmouth – so just the second event since I retired.

“I have practised at Coulsdon with Jimmy White and Marco Fu and I will be back there in the next week. I just want to play.

“The chance for any amateur to pay their £100 and have the chance to qualify and play us, and even win it and get in the Crucible qualifiers is amazing.

“It could be a ticket to the World Championship – and almost like the Rocky story when Apollo Creed picked him because he was from Philadelphia.

“Someone could come out of the woodwork, win the qualifier to get to the Seniors, win this and then be in at the same place as the world No17, needing to win three games to be at the Crucible.

“What a story that would be. It is a short-frame format, so they have a chance.”