Cross trains sights on top billing after proving 'anything is possible'
After beating darts legend Phil Taylor to lift the PDC World Championship with a thrilling display, Rob Cross believes he is the perfect example of what can be achieved through hard work and dedication.
Taylor was sent into retirement by the 27-year-old former electrician from Hastings who, only 12 months earlier, had been watching the World Championship from his sofa thinking that he could be just as good given the chance.
The reward at the Alexandra Palace on Monday was not just the £400,000 first prize that he estimates would have taken at least a decade "with overtime" to earn as an electrician but the coveted title as well.
High on confidence, Cross reckons he is up to challenging the likes of former world champion Michael van Gerwen for top billing.
"I believe I can dominate going forward, but I still have loads to learn," he said
It is a story that is likely to resonate with amateur players across the world who also wonder what, with the right practice and focus, they could achieve if they went full-time. "If you believe in your ability that much, and think you are good enough, why not? I would encourage people out there to have a go," said Cross. "Anything is possible."
The unsung hero in this partnership is clearly his wife Georgia. She encouraged Cross to turn professional and, even when she was going into labour with their third child last April, told him to remain in Barnsley and qualify for the World Matchplay Championship.
"Without my family, it wouldn't have been possible to do what I have done," he said. "They know I play darts for them - that everything is to give them a better life."
Cross averaged a remarkable 107.67, hit 11 maximums and had a checkout percentage of 60 en route to collecting the winner's cheque.
"Someone was saying yesterday, it was third highest they've had in the final in the world," he said. "You're never thinking about your averages when you're playing but I knew I was playing well yesterday. My finishing was very good and I was finishing amazingly at times."
Taylor was criticised by some for his demeanour in the final which included him allegedly flipping his middle finger after winning the fourth set, but Cross had nothing but admiration for the 57-year-old and for what he has done for the sport.
He added: "He's phenomenal and I'd like to wish him a very happy retirement and whatever he chooses to do, I hope he enjoys it.
"He's a great guy. I don't believe you'll ever see another sportsman dominate their sport as much as what he's done and to that he's the greatest." (© Daily Telegraph, London)