If there was an award for sporting acceptance speech of the year, then the trophy would already be handed over to Mark King.
If anyone ever wanted to see how much it meant to finally be a winner in sport after so many years of toil and disappointment, and huge challenges off it, then King’s disbelieving, joyous expression after success at the Northern Ireland Open in November said it all and more.
The Eurosport post-final footage should be played and re-played as a motivation for anyone who is close to giving up on their dream.
King now has the trophy; he got the family celebration with wife Sally and his three children complete with tears and laughter at the table he had craved all his life; he gets announced for the next year as the reigning Northern Ireland Open champion, and in his ranking titles section on Wikipedia there is now a ‘1’ clearly marked.
But other players win debut trophies, and that fact alone didn’t begin to cover the whole story with King. The only thing missing on the night was the presence of father, friend and mentor Bill, who was unable to travel due to ill health.
The reunion when it came was glorious, and the pair were both back together in the BBC studio with Hazel Irvine alongside Steve Davis at the Betway UK Championship on Thursday.
And it was there that King once again paid tribute to Gamblers Anonymous, the organisation he credits with everything from saving his marriage to making sure he was still in position to enjoy that fabulous moment.
I first interviewed King about his compulsive gambling and the dark places it had led him back in 2011, it was one of the most powerful, brutally frank and honest interviews I have ever been involved in. I think even the player himself was a little shocked when he saw the results in black and white in the old Independent on Sunday.
Then, as with Hazel on the TV today, the 42-year-old, a pro in his 26th season on tour, hailed the contribution of the charity to his own life, and those of thousands of others.
“It was more than a trophy, and what gets me through life are the Gamblers Anonymous meetings,” he said in York on Thursday.
“I go once a week, obviously not when we are in China. There are 20-30 people there in the same boat as me. I can say what I want to say, if I have troubles I can talk about them.
“When I talk about compulsive gambling in there, new members will come in and hear what I and others have to say. It is such a great place.
“Only those people understand what I am talking about. Others might say ‘Why can’t he just go and have one bet’. But because they are not compulsive gamblers, they don’t know what I am talking about.
“I can say ‘I have had a bad week, blah blah blah’, and the other people will suggest ‘You need to do this or that’, advice from experienced and inexperienced members.
“It is a fantastic fellowship and I would never have won that tournament without GA. I also wouldn’t have had a marriage or a wife. They have helped so much in my recovery and my winning a title.”
King also reflected on the early days practising with the Nugget in Romford, and a strange portent that maybe the week in Belfast was going to go well.
He added: “Even two weeks later it hasn’t really sunk in. I told my wife she had to start calling me champ - for a year at least.
“When Steve was at the Matchroom I was at the Luciana, the old dive next door – the best club I have ever played in by the way, the characters in there.
“Then I was lucky enough to start practising with Steve, we used to play best of 7s or best of 9s for the sandwiches.
“I beat him on very rare occasions and when I did he wasn’t happy, but I owe a lot to Steve. His safety and tactical play, I learned from him. He told me if you looked long enough, there’s always a shot. I can’t thank him enough for the knowledge he passed on to me.
“It was a funny one, for the first time ever when I was packingI was counting out my snooker socks and actually counted out enough to win – last 128, 64, 32, 16, quarters, semis, final…
“It was weird, I was playing people who were missing game ball and you wondered if this might be it, even in the final with Barry when he chipped the pink about to win.”