Mark Selby was, until a few years ago, one of those players who appeared to have plenty of talent but perhaps not the killer instinct to be a great champion.

Nobody would say that about him now. He is the world no.4 and holds the Masters and Welsh Open titles. At 25 he has time on his side.

Selby was accepted into the professional ranks as a 15 year-old in 1999, although he was 16 when he played his first match.

He first came to prominence at the 2002 China Open in Shanghai. In the wild card round he beat a 14 year-old by the name of Ding Junhui. He then defeated Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O’Sullivan to reach the semi-finals where he was denied 6-3 by Anthony Hamilton.

This was a fine performance but most memorable for me was the sight of Mark in full snooker gear standing in the hotel lobby at 1am trying to arrange transport to the venue.

A referee friend I was with asked him why he was doing this and he replied, “I’m playing at two.”

For some reason, he had, in his jetlagged state, failed to notice it was pitch black outside and therefore not the afternoon.

A year later, Selby reached the Scottish Open final where he lost 9-7 to David Gray.

After this, he went backwards for a couple of seasons. He had – as many people do – a few personal problems and there was a question mark as to whether he would ever cut it at the highest level.

The tide began to turn when he teamed up with Mukesh Parmar, his friend and manager who has been good for him on and off the table.

The first signs of an upturn in fortunes came at the Crucible in 2006 when he beat John Higgins in the first round of the World Championship.

In 2007, he faced Higgins again, this time in the world final. Selby recovered from 12-4 down to 12-10 and – though this is mere speculation – I think would have made it 12-12 had the match not been taken off to leave time between sessions.

The closest he got to Higgins was 14-13 before the Scot stepped up a gear to apply a classy finish.

Last season, the confidence Selby gained through his Crucible heroics was plain to see. He certainly doesn’t fear the top players. He shouldn’t. He is a top player.

He’s also become one of snooker’s foremost characters, earning the nickname ‘The Jester from Leicester’ because he is invariably smiling about something.

This is one of the reasons that he is a good choice for any promotional campaign.

Selby has also developed into a good all round player. In the disappointment of losing their Welsh Open final last season, O’Sullivan openly questioned whether he was talented.

Perhaps he hadn’t watched Selby win the Masters making four centuries in the final.

The Newport final was different. Here we saw a more grinding approach and it worked – Selby came from 8-5 down to beat O’Sullivan 9-8.

The only low note last season was Selby’s first round defeat in the World Championship but he has plenty more to look forward to in a career that has many more years to run.

He is one of snooker’s prime assets and his ability to accept victory and defeat with equal grace reminds me – and I don’t say this lightly – of another great player, Paul Hunter.

Every day this week I shall be taking a look at one of the five players chosen for World Snooker's new Hotshots programme.

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