Mark Allen’s emphatic capture of the Haikou World Open title today is the fulfilment of a snooker talent who arrived on the professional scene already a winner.
Allen won just about everything possible as an amateur: the Northern Ireland title in all age divisions, the European juniors, the European amateur championship and the IBSF world amateur crown.
So he was used to winning before turning pro and this was evident again when he was selected as a wildcard for the 2005 Northern Ireland Trophy.
In his television debut against the great Steve Davis he did not freeze. Far from it, he played superbly and beat the six times world champion. The following day he beat John Higgins.
Very quickly Allen joined the top 16. He started making semi-finals – including at the 2009 Wordl Championship and 2011 Masters – and this season reached his first final at the UK Championship, where he contested a thrilling tussle with Judd Trump.
He was 3-0 down to Trump in the last 16 earlier this week but never stopped believing he could win, the same attributes that saw him come from 5-2 in arrears to beat Mark Selby 6-5 in the semi-finals.
Today he was unstoppable. To beat a resurgent Stephen Lee 10-1 is some achievement.
It’s a case of what a difference a year makes for the Antrim man. Last year, he went to the airport to fly to Hainan Island for an invitation event but was overcome by panic and could not get on the plane.
He subsequently received treatment for depression. Things picked up in his personal life and he is now engaged to his girlfriend, Kyla.
Allen has repeatedly stated that he doesn’t like travelling but in fact this is his second final far from home this season after he partnered Gerard Greene to the runners-up spot for Northern Ireland in the World Cup. His first professional title also came in China, the 2009 Jiangsu Classic.
He’s not endeared himself to everyone in the sport but, like his legendary compatriot Alex Higgins, doesn’t seem to care.
Maybe after the controversy earlier in the week he fired himself up with an ‘I’ll show them’ attitude.
Well, he showed us what we already know: that he’s a brilliant player possessed of steely resolve with the ability to beat anyone in the game.
Now that he has won his first ranking title there is no reason why more shouldn’t follow.