At 45 years old, Alan McManus is acutely aware that the clock is ticking on his career – which means he won’t be taking for granted the Indian summer he is currently enjoying.
His latest success came yesterday evening at the Betfred World Snooker Championship as the Glaswegian battled back from 9-7 down to beat two-time finalist Ali Carter 13-11 and book his place in the quarter-finals.
After winning multiple ranking events and reaching two World Championship semi-finals in the 1990s, McManus failed to qualify for the Worlds between 2007 and 2012 – leading many to assume his time near the top of the sport had come to an end.
Yet a climb back into the world’s top 30, and a granite-like display against Carter ensuring that he has now made the quarter-finals at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre twice in three years, suggests otherwise.
He produced a majestic 119 break in frame 18 to demonstrate he is still more than capable of scoring heavily when at the table, but puts his late career renaissance down to hard graft.
“I still practise a lot. I work hard at my game because for me there isn’t any other way, I’ve got to do it,” said McManus.
“Sometimes I’m out there in the arena at the Crucible, looking around and thinking I might never be here again. It’s a special place to be. As far as burn-out, I could play best of a hundred!”
Whether McManus could indeed play a best of a hundred is open to debate, but despite having won three best-of-19 qualifiers to reach the Crucible and now a best-of-19 and best-of-25 at the venue, he certainly doesn’t seem to be showing signs of fatigue.
He will be second favourite once again when he takes on either four-time world champion John Higgins or world No.9 Ricky Walden in the last-eight – with Higgins leading 4-3 during the first session last night – but that doesn’t faze the veteran.
“I’ll be underdog whoever I play and that suits me,” said McManus.
Watch the World Championship live on Eurosport, with Colin Murray and analysis from Jimmy White and Ronnie O’Sullivan.