Mark Selby lays claim to John Higgins’ status as snooker’s greatest all-rounder

John Higgins status as snooker’s greatest ever all-rounder has been eclipsed by four-time world champion Mark Selby, reckons Crucible nemesis and World Championship runner-up Shaun Murphy.

Mark Selby parades the trophy after winning the Betfred World Snooker Championships, defeating Shaun Murphy in the final. Picture: Zac Goodwin/PA Wire
Mark Selby parades the trophy after winning the Betfred World Snooker Championships, defeating Shaun Murphy in the final. Picture: Zac Goodwin/PA Wire

Selby toppled Murphy in an 18-15 thriller on Monday night to become just the fifth man to lift the World Championship trophy in Sheffield on four occasions.

Only Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Higgins have achieved the historic feat but Selby, 37, catapulted himself further into the pantheon of greats with another fine display.

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Selby, the world No 4, now sits level with the Wizard of Wishaw on four world crowns and Murphy, who won it as a 22-year-old qualifier back in 2005, reckons he’s now done enough to be considered the sport’s finest all-round player ever.

John Higgins is also a four-time world champion.

The 38-year-old said: “In my opinion, having just gone toe-to-toe with him for two days, I’ve got him down as the best all-rounder we’ve ever seen.

“He’s just granite in all areas – he’s a scorer, a potter, and his long potting was sensational yesterday.

“It’s phenomenal. I’m coming here chasing a second title and he’s now won four. He scores very highly and has all the attributes you need to be successful whether it’s in sport, life, business or whatever.

“For me, he’s the best all-rounder we’ve ever seen. John Higgins was classed as the best all-rounder but for me, Mark Selby is better.

“He’s got more patience, he’s willing to wait longer, he plays cleverer shots and is just granite.

“It’s been a massive thrill to come here on no form at all. I’ve shown no signs of a run coming and it’s great to be back at the business end of tournament.

“I’m obviously disappointed to have come second, but it is a big turning point for me in terms of my career, outlook and life in general.

“I’d lost the belief that one day I could win it again but I think I’ve shown at 38, my best years aren’t behind me and maybe they’re still to come. I’ll be back next year.”

Selby went into the Bank Holiday Monday evening climax with a 14-11 advantage and hauled himself to the brink of victory with a typically gutsy display.

The nine-time Triple Crown winner struck five half-century breaks and a brilliant 107 to open up his three-frame afternoon lead before continuing where he left off in front of a capacity Sheffield crowd.

Fans had flocked back to the famous old venue and watched on as breaks of 120, 69, 68, 66 and 62 took the Jester from Leicester to the brink.

Fired-up Murphy, a three-time Triple Crown champion, rallied as two consecutive century breaks gave Selby the jitters but the Midlands ace held himself together to edge over the line.

Selby admits four World Championship titles surpasses even his wildest dreams and believes his first Triple Crown trophy since 2017 is a triumph of battling personal adversity.

Selby, crowned king of the Crucible in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2021, said: “It’s unbelievable.

“It’s absolutely incredible – when I won it the first time it was a dream come true, but to win it four times is only something I can dream of.

“To win three was unbelievable and be on a par with people like Mark Williams, so to now equal somebody like John Higgins, who is one of the all-time greats, and be on four is beyond my wildest dreams.

“If you’d have said to me when I was starting out as a young lad that I’d be 37 years old with four world titles, I’d have probably laughed at you, but it’s true and it’s come to fruition.

“I go out there and try my hardest no matter what – blood, sweat and tears and just try and go out there to win, give it my all and leave nothing out there.

“I’m not the most naturally gifted player – you look at Ronnie and Judd [Trump] and they’re very, very talented and are basically born with a cue in hand.

“Whereas me, I’ve had to work hard all the way through my career. I’ve been brought up on a council estate, my father had no money at all, he passed away when I was 15 or 16, and my mum left me when I was eight years old. It’s been tough.

“I respect the good things in life and try and keep my feet on the ground.”

Watch the World Snooker Championship live on Eurosport and Eurosport app from April 17- May 3