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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Ben Husband

Luca Brecel tells Mark Selby and wife Vikki to "stay strong" after World Snooker Championship win

A tearful Luca Brecel paid a touching tribute to Mark Selby and his wife Vikki after clinching his first ever World Snooker Championship.

The Belgian Bullet survived a spirited comeback from Selby, who got to within one frame in the 18-15 classic. Selby was quick to heap praise on the victor, before opening up on the struggles his family have gone through during a tumultuous time away from the table.

The four-time world champion has battled depression and previously admitted that in light of his mental health issues, snooker had become irrelevant. “Many congratulations to Luca, he is a great talent and a great lad with a great family. Enjoy the year as champion – you deserve it.

“It was great to make a 147 at the Crucible, something I wanted to do and never thought I would do it in a final. But it’s not about me tonight, it’s about Luca.

“Every time he potted a ball I fancied him to clear up. If I had got it to 16-16, it might have been different. There have been things going on off the table with both me and my wife Vikki, and health is the most important.”

Brecel then offered a magnanimous response to the beaten finalist, telling BBC Sport: “It is amazing, I can hardly see for the tears. Mark is so tough – the worst opponent to have in a final.

“He just keeps coming back and at 16-15 I didn’t fancy my chances. But just getting to 17 made me feel I could do it again, and that I could clear up given a chance.

“Snooker is a tough sport. I had lost five first-round matches and that could have happened again this year, I only beat Ricky Walden 10-9. I can’t wait to see what this brings for snooker in Belgium, Europe and the rest of the world.

“I have the best team, best family, best girlfriend, best friends and it makes you so strong. And I would just like to say to Mark and Vikki – stay strong.”

The 28-year-old Belgian has become just the fourth non-British winner at the Crucible but was made to wait for his crowning moment. Brecel won six of Monday’s eight afternoon frames to move just three away from victory.

Selby then showed his mettle with some wonderful break building to bring the score to 16-15, but Brecel held his nerve to win two on the spin and scoop the £500,000 prize pot for winning snooker’s biggest prize.

In doing so, he also moved to second in the world rankings behind Ronnie O’Sullivan, who he beat at the quarter-final stage with the Rocket labelling him the most talented player in the world.

Six-time world champion Steve Davis said: “Young players will be looking at that and saying 'that's the way to play, that's the way to win'.

“Don't hang around, don't study every shot, see the shot, go for it, trust your first instincts. He's the first player who has led from the front relentlessly so it could make a difference, maybe the old style is ever so slightly changing.”

John Parrott added: “Mark has had an unbelievable week, he's played great, had some titanic matches to get to where he's got to, put a lot of effort in to get there.

“But he was beaten by the better player in the final - it's the best I've ever seen Luca Brecel play. We talk about the shot selection and the way he plays the game, the one thing you need with that is an inordinate amount of talent and he's got that.”

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