Player Of The Month
This new feature on worldsnooker.com will focus on one player each month, giving an insight into his life on and off the table. First up is Pokerstars.com Masters champion Mark Selby.
Part one: Thorne on my side
“I first picked up a cue at the age of seven, playing English pool. My dad was a keen player so my brother and I went to the club with him. I started playing snooker when I was nine, and of course at first I found it difficult as it’s very different to pool. But by the time I was 11 I had made my first century.
“Willie Thorne’s brother Malcolm was the owner of the club and he took me under his wing. He gave me free practice time, so I started playing every day. My family didn’t really have enough money to fund my snooker, so Malcolm was the one who helped me out with sponsorship. He was very much my mentor in the early part of my career – and he was the same for a few other juniors in my age group, like Ricky Walden. He set up a lot of junior tournaments which were very competitive and really helped us develop our games.
“I was gutted to find out recently that Malcolm has got cancer. He’s having chemotherapy and has just finished the first cycle. I spoke to him afterwards, he said he was feeling very tired but keeping positive. Everyone on the snooker circuit wishes him a quick recovery. If it wasn’t for him, I would never have made it as a snooker player.”
Part two: Life on the circuit
"I turned professional when I was 16, and I’ve stayed on the pro Tour ever since. After that I didn’t see my school friends much any more because they were off getting jobs and doing other things. I rarely see any of them these days, unless I bump into them on a night out. My friends now are the lads on the snooker circuit. I get on with everyone, but I suppose my closest mates are the ones I practise with, like Michael Holt, Nigel Bond, Joe Perry and Neil Robertson.
"I’m doing a job that I love, which makes me feel very lucky, because there are so many people out there who have to get up and go to work every day in jobs they don’t like. It’s
a blessing to be able to play snooker, make good money and travel the world, going to places and meeting people that you could never do otherwise.
"I particularly enjoy going to China. The 12-hour flight is a bit of a killer and the jet lag takes a while to get over, but once you are there it’s fantastic to see the level of support for snooker out there.
"There is pressure when you are out there playing in the arena, but it’s nothing compared to the pressure of working full time and trying to make ends meet."
Part three: Master of the Masters
"It’s still sinking in that I’ve won the Pokerstars.com Masters twice. It’s one of the biggest tournaments – maybe the biggest after the Betfred.com World Championship – so just to win it once was unbelievable.
"When I think about how far I’ve come in my career over the past few years, it’s a great feeling. Reaching the final at the Crucible in 2007 was the turning point, as that gave me the belief that I was good enough to beat the best players on the big stage.
"My first Masters win in 2008, when I beat Stephen Lee in the final, has to rank as the most special moment of my career so far, because it was my first major title. Then the second one this year was almost on a par, because of the fact that I beat the best player in the world, Ronnie O’Sullivan, and came from 9-6 down to win the final 10-9.
"The only downside is that it’s not a ranking event – as I could use the ranking points at the moment! I’ve never played snooker for the money - although obviously that’s a great bonus. I play because I love the game, and I want to win titles and get my name on trophies."
Part four: Away from snooker
"When I’m not playing snooker, I enjoy playing a few other sports, particularly darts. I’m
a decent player and I once beat Eric Bristow. I often go to watch the tournaments with my girlfriend Vicky. I play pool once a week in a Thursday night league, which is a bit of fun and a chance to socialise.
"I’ve recently bought a set of golf clubs because I really want to get into golf, although I’ve not had a chance to get out on the course yet. A lot of the other snooker players play golf so I want to join them in the summer.
"I’m a big Leicester City fan and occasionally I go to watch them play. I saw us against West Brom earlier in the season and we lost 2-1. I’m hoping to go to another game soon.
"I’ve been with Vicky for nearly four years now and we’ve never had an argument. Even if we have a bit of a disagreement about anything, we very quickly laugh it off. She’s given me so much stability in my life and that has really helped me in my snooker career.
"We enjoy going out for a meal of just staying in and watching a DVD – although I’m not a big fan of films, I sometimes lose interest half way through.
"Vicky’s a very good cook, her best dishes are chilli con carne and chicken fajitas. I’m useless in the kitchen, I can’t make toast without burning it. Last year, Vicky had swine flu for a week and I had to fend for myself. I couldn’t cook anything so I just ordered take-aways every night!"
(the source:www.worldsnooker.com 6th February, 11th February, 19th February, 26th February 2010 )