New world champion Mark Selby plans to devote more time to his ‘Jester’s Snooker Academy’ in Leicester – to try and unearth another gem from the city.
The 30-year-old may have missed his football club’s promotion parade on Monday but it was in a good cause, defeating Ronnie O’Sullivan 18-14 at the Crucible to provide his defining career moment.
And Selby will now almost certainly get the chance to parade his own silverware at a Foxes Premier League match at the King Power Stadium next season.
But though he completed an extraordinary double in Sheffield of claiming a first world title and re-gaining the No1 position Selby has never forgotten his early life struggles.
And his desire to smooth the way for others is borne of the experience of real financial hardship as a child, seeing his mother leave home, and when he was just 16 seeing his father die from cancer.
But Selby is certain such hardships forged his character both on and off the table, helping him to the very top, and he would not have had it any other way.
Selby said: “My place is called Jester's Snooker Academy and one of my close friends who was there for me when my dad died, Alan Perkins, he runs it. He's the coach.
“So that's every Saturday at a club called Breakers in town. We've only just started it off but I am going to get more involved in that. Hopefully another young man from Leicester can come out of that academy.
“When my Dad passed away I was 16. I more or less had nothing. We had a council house and me and my brother more or less had to go our separate ways because we couldn't really afford the house.
“So my brother moved in with his girlfriend and I moved in with my friend who still runs my snooker academy now.
“When I lived with my dad didn’t have a lot of money. I used to go to the snooker centre once a week because that was all we could afford really
“Then Willie Thorne’s brother Malcolm, who has also now sadly passed away, spotted me and started giving me free practise.
“So from going once a week, to going pretty much every day after school, when I went to school that was.
“In a way I probably wouldn't want it any different. It just shows that you have to graft to get out what you put in.
“If you were born with all the money in the world then everything comes easy so whether you
win or you lose
“You just think to yourself ‘It doesn’t matter, I've still got this or I've still got that’ whereas I probably prefer it the way it was.
“Without sounding big-headed the money is irrelevant really.
“I don't play snooker for the money. I play snooker for the love of the game and because obviously it’s what my father wanted me to do. All I want to do is win titles.
“I would be more than happy playing in the World Championships if there was no money if it meant me trying to win and become world champion.
“The money is great. It helps and stuff but at the end of the day it’s not the be-all and end all for me.”
Photographs by Monique Limbos