Jimmy White saluted Stephen Hendry as the seven-time world champion announced his retirement.
Hendry beat White in four Crucible finals in the early 1990s - 1990, 1992, 1993 and 1994.
They have retained a keen rivalry despite drifting down the rankings.
Hendry announced his retirement last night after a 13-2 defeat to Stephen Maguire in the Betfred.com World Championship quarter-finals in Sheffield.
White wrote on Twitter: "He was and is an unbelievable snooker player & has nothing to prove. I hope he enjoys his retirement he really deserves it!
"He's always put snooker first, been a model professional, credit to the game and I'll see him in the legends tour this year for more battles.
"I thank him sincerely for some of the best matches and memories of my own career. I'm not sure his records will ever be equalled!"
Hendry, 43, plans to devote his time to business interests in China, deciding he did not have sufficient time to attend to those and to maintain a snooker career.
Shaun Murphy, the 2005 world champion, wrote on Twitter: "Most successful snooker player of all time, Stephen Hendry retires. Can't believe it."
Former world number three Neal Foulds added: "Probably the greatest snooker player ever. I wish him well with whatever he does outside of playing professionally."