World champion Stuart Bingham insists he is the perfect example for Mark Allen when it comes to proving the critics wrong.
Bingham, 39, stunned the snooker world last year by winning a first world title – beating three tournament favourites in a row in the form of Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump and then Shaun Murphy in the final.
However his career turnaround from journeyman to winner started in 2011 at the Australian Open when world No9 Allen said he had “no bottle” before their quarter-final.
A fired-up Bingham went on to win not only the match, but also the event for the first ranking title of his career.
And he referred to the incident again after lifting the trophy in the blue-riband tournament in Sheffield last May, noting that he had a lot to be thankful to Allen for such was the motivating effect on him of the sleight.
So there was a certain irony last week at the BetVictor Welsh Open when two-time ranking event winner Allen expressed anger at legend Steve Davis suggesting on TV he was “more Championship than Premier League” as a player.
The comment was originally made in a feature screened in January, but it appeared that Allen, who turned 30 on Monday, had been stewing on it and other observations from current players about his style and ability, intelligently waiting for a good run at a major tournament to issue a retort.
And after a 6-4 semi-final loss to Neil Robertson in which he outscored and out-potted the Australian, Allen brand the six-time world champion’s remark as “disrespectful” and “derogatory”.
World No2 Bingham patched things up with Allen, but admitted after his Crucible triumph that the comments spurred him on and transformed his life.
Bingham said: “It can only help Mark moving forward. It is a bit disheartening when you have people like Steve Davis saying things about you.
“But knowing Mark as I do, I think it will only spur him on to achieve more and get what he wants out of the game.
“You have either got it in you to use these things to your advantage, or you haven’t. I love people knocking me down, and proving them wrong.
“I had it with Mark that time saying I had no bottle, although we are fine now and friendly, and that is all patched up.
“And more recently I have had plenty of people saying on Twitter and elsewhere that I was a lucky world champion. It just gets me more motivated and desperate to win another one.
“I remember a time when I left school and at a snooker club I played at three people asked me what I was going to do. I said ‘Be a professional snooker player’.
“They all laughed, said ‘Shut up, you’re not good enough’. I can have a good laugh at them now. You aren’t going to forget that sort of thing, but it is how you use it, and how hard it makes you work.
“When you are down and need something to pick you up, proving people wrong can be very helpful. It does spur people on.”
Photograph courtesy of Monique Limbos