Snooker

Mark Selby: Former world champion was left in despair as teenager by death of father

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Mark Selby
Mark Selby is a three-time world champion and former world number one
Dates: 10-17 January Venue: Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button, BBC Sport website and the BBC Sport app. Highlights on BBC Two and online.

Mark Selby has told the BBC he thought about ending his life at the age of 16 after his father died from cancer.

Leicester’s Selby, 37, is one of snooker’s most successful players, winning a total of 19 ranking titles including three World Championships.

Selby said “it eats away at me day after day” that his father David never got to see him play professionally.

“Hopefully he is looking down and seen what I have achieved and I have made him proud,” Selby told BBC Sport.

Selby won the England Under-15 Championship in 1998 and turned professional just two months after losing his father to cancer in 1999.

He paid tribute to family friend Alan Perkins who “took me under his wing” during a “difficult” time in his life.

In an interview with the BBC’s Rob Walker, Selby said: “I moved in with Alan at the time and for the first six months, I curled into a ball and didn’t want to to play snooker. It was the last thing on my mind.

“I didn’t move in with him straight away – we still had the council house which myself, father and my brother were living in until we decided to give it back to the council because we couldn’t bring ourselves to keep walking into that house knowing my father was not going to be there.

“At times, I was very close to doing it [taking his life] but told myself, my father wouldn’t want that.

“[Alan] pulled me through that, tried to turn it around and say, if your father was here, he would want you to still be smiling and playing snooker and trying your best, so use him as a positive, kick on and do it for him.”

In addition to his three World Championships, Selby has won two UK Championships and three Masters titles and has had six spells as world number one between 2011 and 2019.

He added: “If I could turn back the clock, I would give everything that I have achieved in snooker and all the money I have earned to have him back and see everything I have got – a great wife in Vikki, a fantastic daughter Sofia and even for him to see me as a professional. He never did see me play once.

“It eats away at me day after day knowing he hasn’t been here to see that but hopefully he is looking down and seen what I have achieved and I have made him proud.”

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