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'I was beaten to within an inch of my life and left for dead in the humanities' block toilets'

Still thought of as 'a bible-bashing snooker player', Shaun Murphy is now content in Ireland after a life in which he was left for dead by bullies at 13; was world champion at 22; found God; lost God and had a roller-coaster career where a rivalry with Ronnie O'Sullivan has never been far from the surface

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Right on cue: Former world champion Shaun Murphy at his practice table in Dublin’s St Stephen’s Green. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Right on cue: Former world champion Shaun Murphy at his practice table in Dublin’s St Stephen’s Green. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Right on cue: Former world champion Shaun Murphy at his practice table in Dublin’s St Stephen’s Green. Photo: Steve Humphreys

They left him for dead on the toilet floor. Mrs Heathfield, his old geography teacher, would find him, long after the brutal business of the kicking and the gouging and the punching.

Coiled in a corner, shivering and shaking, surrounded by the detritus of bloody battle. S**t and p**s, spit and blood.

He wasn't dead, of course. They wouldn't have killed him. That would have spoiled their fun. After all, that would mean there wouldn't be another opportunity to beat Shaun Murphy up.