UK Champion Shaun Murphy goes under the spotlight.
What’s your earliest memory?
Shaun Murphy: I remember being very young and playing on the driveway of our house in Cambridge, when my dad came home and drove up in his MG Maestro. He didn’t realise I was there and nearly ran me over, stopping about a foot short of where I was sitting. At the time I had no idea what was going on and didn’t know how lucky I was.
Who do you most admire?
SM: Roger Federer. He’s the ultimate pro, a fantastic sportsman and seems like a nice guy as well. He comes across well and shows his human side, which helps bridge the gap to the people sitting at home watching on TV. Top sportsmen are just normal people like everyone else, it just so happens that they do their job on TV. I went to see Federer play at Wimbledon and it was breath-taking.
What are you afraid of?
SM: Death. I’m not one of those people who says ‘when your time is up, it’s up.’ I don’t want to die, I want to live forever.
If a film was made of your life, who would you like play the lead role?
SM: Someone thin and good-looking. Maybe Eddie Murphy.
What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
SM: Chocolate. I can’t just have one piece, it’s got to be the whole bar or nothing. And biscuits, I can’t just have one Hob-Nob, it’s the whole packet, which is why I rarely buy them. My favourite are fig rolls, I can go through them in 7.6 seconds.
What was the most trouble you got into at school?
SM: I left school early so I wasn’t there for that long. I had the usual detentions, got into the odd fight and answered back to teachers, but nothing too serious. There was one lad at my school who brought in a bullet, and was messing around with it, banging it against a wall. It went off and took his finger off.
What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought, apart from a house or car?
SM: My piano. It’s only an entry level one because I’m just starting out, but it’s a nice piece of furniture as well as a beautiful instrument. I’m learning at the moment, I’ve passed my Grade One theory and I’m working towards my Grade One practical. I’m learning to play all the children’s nursery rhymes, which feels a bit silly when you’re 27 but you have to start somewhere. The best way to look at it is that there was a day when Jules Holland didn’t know how to play the piano. People I know who can play tell me it’s the best thing I will ever do. It’s something you can do on your own to relax, or with friends.
Is there a piece of music which particularly inspires you?
SM: I’ve got a wide taste in music, I like all sorts. At the moment I like the third movement of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. It’s not the part everyone recognises, but if you go on to iTunes and listen to it you’ll see what I mean.
If you had a time machine and could go anywhere forward or back, where would you go?
SM: I’d go back to when I was at junior school. I had some great teachers then and it was the best time of my educational life. Everything was so easy back then, with no complications.
If you could come back in your next life as any animal, what would it be?
SM: I’ve always liked the idea of being able to fly, so maybe a big bird like a hawk. They’re pretty impressive and don’t get picked up by any other birds.
Everyone is favourite. We all know his World Championship story - so near so many times. Even today everybody in the game would love to see Jimmy White win the World Championship.
He is his own person, he does things the way he wants to and he is the world is No.1 player. He is fantastic to watch when he is in full flow.
Nice bloke. A lot of my friends told me that last year after the world final they went up to him backstage and even though he was disappointed to have been beaten he was dead nice. He would have had every right to be bitter. Nothing short of world class.
I think six titles for Steve is probably enough. It is time for the new breed to take over. I certainly don’t think there is anything wrong with him playing there. Having greats like Steve involved is fantastic but we should make more room for young, up-and-coming players.
A good guy and someone I have a lot of respect for. He has been very nice to me over the last few seasons, having me up to practise with him. A fierce competitor but away from the table a real gentleman.
He can pot balls from all over the show. Very, very dangerous. The fact that he won the China Open just a couple of weeks ago indicates to everybody that he is back. He has been away from the table after saying that he would much rather be spending time with his family. I thought that was dead honest.
Another great player. His talent is unquestioned and his standing in the game will always be appreciated. Everybody knows what he can do and if he is in the mood then he is another player who can really make an impact.
Fantastic player. He has not been around long but his record says that he is a great in the making. I think he will be around for a long, long time.
18 May 2007
Rotherham’s Shaun Murphy, who conquered the Crucible in 2005 and a semi-finalist this year, answers questions from fans sent in to the World Snooker website…
How old were you when you decided your goal was to play snooker professionally?
Johannessburg, South Africa
I was ten years old. I made my first century at that age and two weeks after that I decided that to be a professional snooker player was my ambition.
How did you feel when you were potting the last few balls to win the World title in 2005?
Strangely it was the calmest I had felt throughout the whole tournament. I had broken so many personal milestones during the event and I had gone through the nerves. By the time I was clearing up in the last frame it was a case of enjoying the moment.
How long have you been a Christian, and do you think you have an edge with the big man on your side?
Barry, South Wales.
I have been a Christian for eight years and yes – it definitely gives me an edge.
When you were a child, did you imagine yourself lifting the World Championship trophy?
Yes, many times. When I practised I would pretend I was playing in the world final at the Crucible against Steve Davis or Stephen Hendry. I had pictured it in my mind’s eye so many times that when it was actually happening it helped me handle the situation.
When did you make your first professional 147 and how did the buzz compare to winning a tournament?
It was at the B&H Championship, the qualifying event for the Masters, in 2001. I remember shaking like a leaf on the last pink because all of the other tables stopped and the players were all watching, so I didn’t want to make a mess of it in front of my colleagues. It was a nice feeling but it doesn’t compare to the satisfaction of winning a tournament after all the hours of practice.
You were tipped as a potential World Champion at a very early age. Do you think that helped you, or put more pressure on you to perform?
It put more pressure on me because every time I lost a match there were people saying I was just a flash in the pan and that I wasn’t going to fulfil my potential. It took me a while but eventually I was able to come through that and prove myself.
Before you play a shot you hold the cue vertically in front of you, as if it was a sword, before bending down on the table. Is this some kind of habit or is it a superstition?
It’s just a habit and it’s part of my technique. It helps me ensure that I come into the shot on the right line and stops me cueing across the shot.
If you could play just one more snooker match in your life, who would you play it against?
I would love to have played Ray Reardon in his 1970s prime. He was a fantastic player.
What was the happiest moment in your life?
Daniel Regueiro Fernandez
Getting married to my wife Clare, followed by winning the world title.
Where did your interest in Superman stem from?
It was a childhood fascination. When I was five or six I had all the toys and a costume which I would wear underneath my school uniform. I read the comics and watched the films over and over again. He was by far the best super-hero. I even jumped off a wall once hoping that I would fly, but I fell and hurt myself so I didn’t try that again.
What do you usually do during a mid-session interval?
It depends how the match is going. If I feel there’s something in my game that I need to work on, then I’ll head straight for the practice table. If not then I’ll read a newspaper and have a drink. The times goes very quickly and before you know it you are back in the match.
Do you use any techniques to keep yourself calm when you become nervous?
Barry, South Wales
Not really – it’s better to accept that you are nervous and embrace it, rather than trying to pretend that you are not.