Daryl Peach stood 213th in the rankings after four years of professional snooker qualifying competitions at the Norbreck Castle Hotel in his native Blackpool. With no immoderately high hopes, he turned to pool.
Twelve years later, at the age of 35, he is the world nine-ball champion, No 2 on the flourishing Euro Tour and is off to Las Vegas later this month to play for Europe against the USA in the annual Mosconi Cup.
"I'm not the most talented player in the game but I've done this by using my head and trying to focus on what I've got. I always knew I had a strong mind and the right will to win," said Peach in the aftermath of his17-15 world triumph over a hometown favourite, Roberto Gomez, in Manila's Araneta Coliseum, scene of a better-known Thriller in Manila featuring Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali in 1975.
"It was hostile at times but I just tried to block it out and play my own game," said Peach.
It was eight years ago that Barry Hearn became the promoter of the World Pool Association's premier event. Hearn said: "We had a television audience in Asia of 90 million for the final, right up there with Premiership football."
Peach's first prize was $100,000 (48,000). Hearn added: "Pool doesn't make you rich but it keeps you busy, and that's what players want."