Everyone at Unicorn Darts is deeply saddened to learn that five-time World Champion Eric Bristow MBE passed away on Thursday evening following a heart attack.

Arguably the sport’s first superstar player, Bristow, 60, was World Champion five times between 1980-1986 and also won five World Masters titles during an outstanding career.

Unicorn Managing Director Edward Lowy said: “Completely shocked and deeply upset to hear of Eric’s untimely passing. Not just a legend, not just a great, Eric defined darts for a generation.

“He oozed confidence and superiority on the oche, beating most players before they ever threw a practise dart. Off stage, I found him deeply respectful, knowledgeable and the best of company. Our sincere thoughts to his friends and family at this time.”

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 (pictured above), and since retiring from competition at the end of 2007 remained a popular figure on the exhibition circuit.

John Lowe commented on Facebook when hearing the news: “I didn’t want to share this message, Eric has passed away, my rival, my friend, my drinking Pal, lost a part of my life tonight. Thanks for being Eric. Goodbye my good friend.”

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.

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.

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.

PDC Chairman Barry Hearn led the tributes to Bristow, stating: “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.”

Photo courtesy PDC