THERE are plenty of hard-luck stories in snooker but you do have to wonder what Igor Figuereido might have achieved if so many of the cards had not been stacked against him.
The Brazilian has been pretty much as part-time a professional as it is possible to get over the last five seasons, his career blighted by a lack of finance.
But that is not even the start of it, with the talented player having not even used a traditional 12-foot table until six years ago, with 10-ft tables used in his home country.
Figuereido has had four of the last five years technically on tour as a professional, but his total of tournaments played, and therefore opportunities to earn and progress, has been meagre.
His first campaign in 2010-11 was very promising including a couple of wins over David Gilbert, and despite a tailing off towards the end he had done enough in the early PTC events to stay on.
But Figuereido was unable to take advantage of his achievement in retaining his spot through a lack of money to cover expenses, and stayed in Brazil until the World Championship qualifiers where he beat Jamie O’Neill, Andrew Norman and Liu Song before losing to Joe Jogia in the last 64.
After a year away Figuereido, who had tried a couple of different bases in the UK through all this, notably Gloucester and Sheffield, managed to regain his tour place for 2013-14, but again was restricted to the World Championship qualifiers, where he beat Adam Duffy and Gerard Greene before losing to Martin Gould.
Having finally gained a measure of financial backing this season before the UK Championship the tour saw a bit more ‘samba snooker’ from York onwards, and secured at the age of 37 some of the best wins of his late-starting and then interrupted career.
There were victories over Fergal O’Brien, Kurt Maflin and Michael Holt, and then this week in the Betfred World Championship Nigel Bond before Figuereido survived a ‘Lawler-ing’, winning his second qualifier 10-9 on the final black at 1.30am at Ponds Forge.
At 37, has the boat sailed for Igor? You have to hope not, but in a fiercely competitive environment there remains a lot of catching up to do at a relatively late stage.
To get to the Crucible for the first time world No96 Figuereido, who could well be relegated off tour again this summer, will have to win another very tough match – and if nothing else that might help him fund a serious attempt to make a go of it and do his talent some justice.
He may not be a world-beater or even a ranking-event winner, but there seems little doubt that under different circumstances, right from an early baptism on different tables, Figuereido could and should have been able to carve out a decent living from snooker with his talent.
Photograph courtesy of Star Academy