John Higgins was crowned champion of the world for the fourth time here last night, completing a remarkable season since returning from a six-month ban for bringing the sport into disrepute.
The Scot clinched a thrilling 18-15 World Championship final victory over Judd Trump, the game's rising star, who produced some sensational snooker before Higgins prevailed.
"It's an unbelievable feeling to have won this, it's amazing," reflected Higgins. "I wouldn't be here without my family, they've been my inspiration. Judd was by far the better player, he was playing a brand of snooker I've never seen in my life. We've got a new sensation, which is great for the game. It's just a fantastic feeling."
With his battling victory, and a deserved winner's cheque of £250,000, Higgins becomes the third most successful player at the Crucible, joining his compatriot Stephen Hendry and six-time winner Steve Davis in an elite group of champions who have dominated on snooker's greatest stage.
"This is by far the biggest and best title I've ever won," he said. "I've not really played my best, but I've just scrapped out every shot and every frame. When I sit down and reflect on everything it will probably hit me."
Higgins was full of praise for his opponent: "Judd pots everything, he's going to bring an army of fans with him. We've got a new star, he's the future of the game without a doubt."
Ahead 10-7 overnight Trump was an early favourite to upset his more experienced opponent, but Higgins made his big-match experience count as he won six of the eight frames in the penultimate session to edge 13-12 ahead with only the concluding session to play.
Higgins then edged two frames clear by winning the first frame of the evening thanks to a break of 62. Trump responded with a 41 which helped him to win the next frame and then he won a scrappy 28th frame to make things all square.
Higgins won the next with a 44 after Trump had missed his chance, faltering on a run of 42 when he had a chance to win the frame and cut his opponent's lead to just one. It looked as though Higgins was going to pull within one frame of the winning line, but the pressure got to him as well and he broke down on a break of 46 and Trump stepped in with a remarkably cool 70 break to enhance his own title hopes. But Higgins made sure he did take a big step towards the finishing post as a break of 50 made it 17-15 and left Trump needing to win all three of the remaining frames to win the title.
Trump had his chances in the next frame, but he missed a routine pot on a pink ball to a corner pocket and Higgins pounced to do enough damage to win the frame he needed for an amazing victory.
"I've never experienced anything even close to the reception when I walked out," said Trump. "Both days really I just never seemed to click. But I went out and played my game like I have all the way through and I'm glad I didn't change for the final.
"Obviously it's nice to hear [Higgins call him the future of the game] but you're only really remembered when you win titles. You're not remembered as a loser.
"Next year there is going to be a lot of expectation on me. When I came here I was nobody really. Now every time I go into a restaurant or walk down the street, everybody seems to notice me and wish me luck , which is brilliant and the way I want it to be. But that's only going to continue if I keep winning matches and playing the way I am.
"I don't know what I'll spend my prize money on yet, depending on car insurance. Be sensible and pay off the mortgage? Not a chance. I want to do something flash! You've got to reward yourself – maybe I'll buy a Lamborghini."Reuse content