Before marriage, before fatherhood, before the stresses of everyday adult life became a reality, John Higgins was world champion.
He won the title for the first time on May 4, 1998, 11 years ago to this night.
It took him nine years to win it for a second time but only two more to win it for a third.
He could have lost in the second round when he trailed Jamie Cope 12-10, but brought his exceptional poise under pressure to the fore to fight through in a decider.
He could have lost in the quarter-finals but again survived a deciding frame finish to see off Mark Selby.
He played superbly in pulling away early against Mark Allen and demonstrated his superior all round game in exposing Murphy’s weaknesses in the final.
Higgins joins Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O’Sullivan in capturing at least three Crucible crowns. In the modern era, only Ray Reardon and John Spencer have also accomplished this feat.
On any roll of honour bearing the names of snooker’s all time greats, he would have earned a place before today.
But, were there any doubt, John Higgins tonight joined the pantheon of green baize legends.