Burnley footballer Clarke Carlisle made a victorious debut as he became the first Premier League player to appear on TV's Countdown - but said nothing could be a substitute for the thrill of his day job.
The defender, 30, saw off reigning champion Adam Guest 89-55 to move into the champions chair and ensure the show's famous teapot trophy will take pride of place among the Turf Moor silverware.
And he told the show's host, Jeff Stelling: "I can't say it's better than winning a big football game - but it's up there!
"It's a lifelong ambition. I'm just delighted to be here," he added during the show.
Stelling noted: "Your team-mates can't take the mickey out of you too much now."
Carlisle, who admits he has been an "addict" of the show since childhood, had previously failed an audition during a long-term cruciate ligament injury lay-off from January 2001 to September 2002.
But he was crowned "Britain's Brainiest Footballer" in an ITV show hosted by former Countdown number-cruncher Carol Vorderman in January 2002, seeing off a panel of 12 including England's World Cup-winning full-back George Cohen and legendary Newcastle striker Malcolm "Supermac" Macdonald.
And, after coming through the audition process successfully this time round, he proved his credentials with a slew of impressive words.
Demonic, dossier and statute were among Carlisle's seven-letter offerings, and a 16-second conundrum added a fitting injury-time flourish.
As a result his run on the show continues, with a maximum eight games possible should he keep winning.
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