Selby savours role as Leicester's 'other' title winner
After Mark Selby secured victory in the World Championship, overcoming the obdurate Chinese player Ding Junhui 18-14, there was only one question everyone wanted answered: at what point in his progress to his second title win did he realise that his beloved hometown football team Leicester City had secured the Premier League title?
"I didn't know the result until right at the end," he said. "I was trying not to let anything divert me. Then I was sitting in my chair when my mate, who's from Coventry but supports Leicester City, came over and whispered to me that we'd done it."
Selby is the most phlegmatic of sporting characters, a man likely to greet the news of a jackpot lottery win with a face resembling someone who has just heard of family bereavement. But even he could not hold back from expressing his delight at the most unlikely of sporting double whammies.
"I can't believe it," he said. "I'm not sure what's more of a shock, me winning it twice, or Leicester winning the Premier League."
There were many differences between Selby's victory and Leicester's. After all, unlike his footballing heroes, the world No 1 was the favourite before the tournament began. Unlike City, who had been striving all their existence without ultimate success, he had won the thing before, in 2014.
And his victory came not through the application of consistency that characterised that of Claudio Ranieri's men; he reckoned that he played well in only two sessions throughout the fortnight-long competition. "I saved my best for the final," he said. "And luckily my 'B game' is pretty good."
Selby pointed at smiling wife Vikki in the crowd as he crossed the winning line, joy and satisfaction detailed across his face. She and daughter Sofia joined him amid ticker-tape trophy celebrations.
Selby said: "It's a great, great feeling. To win it once was a huge achievement and something I'd always wanted to do - but I never dreamt of winning it twice."
The last time he won the title, Leicester had won the Championship. He had shared the celebratory open-top bus ride round the town. And it is not ridiculous to suggest that back then his might have been regarded as the more significant of the local victories. Not this time. Quizzed as to whether he would be joining in the triumphal route, Selby had no idea. "We'll have to wait and see," he said.
And from Mark Selby, that almost sounded breathless in its excitement. (© Daily Telegraph, London)