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World Snooker Championship: 'What a champion he’s going to be' – Alan McManus lauds 'sensational' Luca Brecel – Eurosport COM

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The “sensational” Luca Brecel is going to make a “fantastic world champion” according to Eurosport expert Alan McManus.

The Belgian held off a fightback from Mark Selby to become the first world champion from mainland Europe, claiming a thrilling 18-15 victory.

The 28-year-old is the youngest Crucible winner since Shaun Murphy in 2005 and victory over Selby completed an incredible fortnight for Brecel, who also defeated veterans Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Williams.

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McManus insists he has put snooker on the map in Belgium and across Europe.

“He’s a bona fide champion,” McManus said.

“He’s came from mainland Europe, I remember going there back with Jimmy [White] actually, 30 some years ago, over to places like Antwerp and Brussels and all these places, and it was a snooker backwater; it ain’t anymore because we have a Belgian world champion. And what a champion he’s going to be.”

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Brecel’s attacking style of snooker has long been lauded and it has now been justified after clinching the sport’s biggest prize.

“His brand of snooker is just sensational,” continued McManus.

“There’s no back off in him, he does it his way, and that’s the correct way – it’s the beautiful way.”

Before this year’s tournament Brecel had failed to win a single match at the Crucible. He has continually fought the odds, completing the greatest comeback in this event’s history by becoming the first player to fight back from nine frames behind to claim a stunning 17-15 victory over Si Jiahui to reach the final.

He also edged a first-round thriller with Ricky Walden 10-9 before eliminating O’Sullivan and Williams.

McManus pointed out that on his road to success, Brecel played 98 frames “and he spent most of those 98 frames behind in the matches”.

“If you cast your mind back to that 14-5 behind [against Si], this was impossible, it’s the impossible dream,” McManus said. “But the dreams are the reality now, but that takes character and he showed it in abundance.”

McManus recalled the first time he had the privilege of watching Brecel – back in the late noughties during a Players Tour Championship match – explaining: “Word got round that there’s this young guy Luca Brecel from Belgium, ‘you want to see the cue action this boy’s got’.

“And I thought, ‘right okay, I’ll hold judgement until I see him’, and the first time I clapped eyes on him, one shot he played, I went: ‘Yeah, he’s got it, he’s a player’”.

McManus continued: “It’s taking him a few years to come to the fore. It’s not been easy because he’s commuting from his home country, which is nice in itself in a lot of ways. As I say, he’s done it his way.

“And you know, he just deserves everything he’s going to get from this. He’s going to be a fantastic world champion.

“Because he’s from mainland Europe, it’s a first and that’s what we want in snooker – it’s a global game and Luca is now at the forefront of that.”

Praising the style of snooker Brecel produced during the competition, Jimmy White said the Belgian is a worthy winner.

“It’s absolutely fabulous, I’m so pleased for him and his family,” said White.

“All that travelling backwards and forwards from Belgium, in between tournaments… that’s a hard slog.

“His brand of snooker is so exciting to watch, the whole world will love to see Luca play snooker like that for many, many years.

“He would win a lot more tournaments, but he likes to play the way he does. He’s beaten Ronnie O’Sullivan from behind, he’s beaten Si from behind and he’s beaten probably the greatest match player there is, Mark Selby, over four sessions. Absolutely fabulous job and good luck to him.”

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