I'm not one of the greats yet - Selby
After his third victory in the Betfred World Snooker Championship, Mark Selby refused to accept that he had joined the elite of the game, insisting his own opinion of himself had not changed.
"Other people might see me now as one of the greats," he said. "But it's hard to think of yourself as that. I'm just Mark Selby the snooker player."
Selby, 33, was speaking in the immediate aftermath of a final at the Crucible in Sheffield, which redefined the term attrition.
Against the four-time champion John Higgins, across two days, the momentum of the match swung prodigiously.
First, Higgins seized the initiative, at one point on Sunday leading 10-4. But Selby, digging in to play his characteristically ruthless, error-free snooker, rallied to lead 16-12 by the mid-evening break on Monday.
Then it was Higgins's turn to recover. The veteran Scot won three successive frames to bring the score to 16-15 and suggest the match might still be going on now. But last year's champion eased away in the late night to triumph 18-15.
In the process, he became only the fourth player - after Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O'Sullivan - to retain the trophy.
"I've never been one to look to the record books or think I need to go down as one of the greats," the champion said when asked if he was motivated by an urge to better those who have gone before. "I just play snooker because I love the game."
He will return to his home in Leicester clutching the £350,000 winner's cheque, which takes his earnings this season to nearly £1 million. Which might be reckoned in itself evidence that he is now the dominant force in the game. But Selby is not sure.
"This year I've had a good season, winning five ranking events including this. People say no one is going to dominate in this period because of the high standard.
"You could argue I have this year, but definitely not in the past. To try and have another season like this will be hard."
Last season his triumph was overshadowed by the success of his beloved Leicester City, who seized the Premier League title on the same day he won the trophy in Sheffield.
"Completely overshadowed," he said. "But I wasn't disappointed. I mean, how many times are Leicester going to win the Premier League?
"I was more than happy for them to take the limelight away from me. I paraded the trophy on the pitch at the King Power, which was good enough for me."
This year, however, he will have the stage to himself. "Yeah, true. But I still don't think I'll get an open-topped bus." (© Daily Telegraph, London)