Judd Trump says he took satisfaction from “proving the doubters wrong” with his first World Championship title.
Trump, 29, said he received a tweet when he was 6-3 down to Thepchaiya Un-Nooh in the first round which said he was “bottling it again”.
He edged through that in a final-frame decider and reached the final where he dismantled John Higgins 18-9.
“I am going to reply to the tweet,” Trump said with a grin. “It had given me the fire.”
The Bristolian had been touted as a world champion since the age of 14 and finally fulfilled his potential at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre.
Some questioned whether he had the temperament or game to go all the way – yet one punter won £10,000 on a 1,000-1 bet, made when Trump was eight, that he would become world champion.
A breathtaking final saw a record 11 centuries being compiled, with Trump contributing seven.
Trump said: “You don’t bottle it this day and age; there are so many tough players.
“So for me just to go out there and, not prove everyone wrong because I’ve got a lot of support as well, but just to prove some of the people that put you down for no reason, it is nice to do that.
“It was incredible to do it in the way I did in that kind of standard in the final. I still proved wrong a few doubters so it’s nice to get that out of the way.”
Can Trump dominate?
Trump became the youngest world champion since Australia’s Neil Robertson won for the only time in 2010 and World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn hailed the Englishman as snooker’s “new king”.
When Hearn took over the sport in 2009, there were six ranking events and £3.5m in prize money. A decade later, there are 20 ranking events and more than £15m in prize money.
Trump said: “There are a lot of things I think need changing. Snooker is a bit stuck in its way so I’d love to sit down and talk to Barry about that kind of thing.
“It can still be a little bit old-fashioned in those kind of ways. I would love to bring it up-to-date and get some more people interested in snooker.”
When Trump returns to Sheffield next year, he will be introduced into the arena on the opening morning as the defending champion and will be aiming to break the ‘Crucible Curse’.
No first-time champion has managed to retain their title the following year.
“Hopefully I can be a multiple champion,” said Trump. “I would like to win it more than once, then see what happens but the standard is so tough.
“The first one is always very special but I can’t get too carried away. Other great players have only won it a couple of times: Mark Williams, Neil [Robertson] has only won it once as well, so I can’t get too carried away.”
Seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry said Trump’s triumph could herald a “new era of dominance from one player” in snooker.
Steve Davis won six titles in the 1980s, while Hendry went on to win seven in the 90s.
But Trump said: “I don’t think any more that’s possible. I think obviously if I can suddenly start playing how I did in the final every single game, then I could get close – but in this day and age, just take it one game at a time.”
‘I still like a party now and again’
Having won the world title, which earned him £500,000, to go with the Masters in January and two other ranking events, Trump became the first player to claim more than £1m in prize money in a single season.
His Crucible triumph means he has completed snooker’s Triple Crown – the World Championship, the Masters and the UK Championship, the latter of which he won in 2011.
After that UK Championship win, Trump bought a £100,000 Ferrari and he has also owned a Lamborghini but says he is “more sensible nowadays”.
Trump’s partying in his early years was well documented with pictures across social media, but he says he has dedicated himself to snooker this season.
He employed brother Jack in a full-time capacity to travel with him on tour and work with him on the practice table.
“Hopefully I get to the point where I get paid to party and can give up snooker,” joked Trump.
“It is going to be easier than it has been to get everything out of the way – and to win the three majors now is a massive stepping stone for me. There is no more expectation.
“I think I have got everything out of the way that the public know how good I am now, that came out in the final. Hopefully it’s about relaxing and winning as many trophies as I can.
“I still like a party now and again but this season I have gone out a lot less and doubled my hours on the practice table. I’ve just been a lot more sensible and given it my ultimate shot this season – and it has really paid off.
“Mentally I have been a lot stronger knowing how much work I have put in on the table.”
Asked what had been the catalyst for change, Trump said: “I was getting a bit bored with going out so much.
“I have always wanted to live my life as well as playing snooker. Some of the players in the past have lived it the other way around, got their snooker out of the way then lived after, but you don’t want to cut something out of your life, you want to be happy on and off the table and this year I have got the right amount of both.
“My self-belief has always been there but it is about managing it the right way.
“This year having my brother and [manager] Django [Fung] around me to keep me on the straight and narrow has helped me not get too carried away, even with a big lead against these top players because it can soon turn around.”