IT WAS the moment he dreamt of for so long and possibly never thought would come……..
After 20 years of hard work, graft determination and ups and downs along the way – Stuart Bingham’s dream finally came true last night (Monday) as he became World Snooker Champion for the first time – joining a list of greats to have won the prestigious trophy.
And what a way to do it – winning what many described live on TV and on social media as the best World Championship final seen in recent years. His 18-15 victory against Shaun Murphy had everything from big breaks to long frames and crucial misses at crucial times. Even at the closing stages one tense frame lasted more than an hour which included a short toilet interval midway through it.
Not even the biggest snooker fans in the world world were gripped by the tension in the final moments as Bingham dug deep to claim snooker’s greatest prize and a cheque for £300,000.
With odds of him winning the tournament priced at 50/1 before a cueball was struck, it would be fair to say not many had seen Bingham as a major contender for the title.
But gripping wins over Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump – both as the underdog it needs to be stated – showing tremendous nerves of steel along the way saw him become a popular figure with the nation because, as we all know, the UK loves the story of the underdog going on to win.
And the nation took to him even more throughout the final against an in form Murphy who had been playing the snooker of his life throughout the tournament. Fighting back from 8-4 down Bingham produced another sterling display of determination to become the third oldest player to win the famous trophy.
Bingham’s rise to the top has come through much hard work and has only began to pay off in recent years. His first ranking title in Australia in 2011 was his breakthrough and that gave him the confidence to climb up the world rankings and break into the elite of the top 16.
CRUCIBLE WORLD CHAMPIONS
John Spencer, Ray Reardon, Terry Griffiths, Cliff Thorburn, Steve Davis, Alex Higgins, Dennis Taylor, Joe Johnson, Stephen Hendry, John Parrott, Ken Doherty, John Higgins, Mark Williams, Peter Ebdon, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Shaun Murphy, Graeme Dott, Neil Robertson, Mark Selby, Stuart Bingham
Working with new coach Steve Feeney, founder of coaching firm SightRight UK, has certainly put Bingham in the right direction. Further wins in the Premier League in 2012 and then earlier this season winning the Shanghai Masters has proved Bingham has what it takes to be a winner.
But winning the World Championship? Not even Bingham himself thought his dream would come true.
“It’s just unreal,” he said. “You dream of it as a kid playing. But it’s reality now. It feels amazing amazing to be sitting here knowing I’m world champion.
“I think I’ll be replying to messages for the next two weeks.
“At 15-15 I thought my chance was gone, my arm felt like someone else’s and nerves sort of got to me, but we had a marathon 31st frame and I pinched it on the colours, and from then on I played pretty solid.
“I was going one ball at a time. I actually didn’t realise I’d won the final frame until the crowd clapped, then I looked at the score and realised.”
And the sport’s latest champion – the 20th different winner at the Crucible – hope winning the World Championship will provide a huge lesson to youngsters not to give up their dream and spend
“I’m going to be the same person, playing in all the tournaments, and I’ll be hopefully a good role-model,” Bingham added.
“Any kids out there growing up that want to play, just stick at it. With a lot of hard work, a lot of practice and a lot of self-belief, something like this can happen.”