Northern Ireland Open champion Mark Allen has opened up on his concerns over his future in snooker.
he Antrim star finally collected the Alex Higgins Trophy at the Waterfront Hall on Sunday evening, fulfilling a major ambition.
He then lifted the lid on his even bigger dream of following in compatriots Alex Higgins and Dennis Taylor’s footsteps by bringing the world title back to Northern Ireland for the fourth time.
But the chances of that one being turned into reality, he admitted, is “out of (his) hands”.
It’s been a turbulent period away from the table for Allen, who declared himself bankrupt in May and after Sunday’s success, he said that he wasn’t sure if he would get his hands on any of the £70k prize money.
“To be honest winning this title and the financial ramifications makes no difference over whether I continue to play or not. That is out of my hands,” he said.
“I really hope I can, it is the only thing I am good at and the only thing I have ever done in my life. But that will take care of itself over the next few months.
“I am not sure I am going to get any of the prize money I won for the title, or play in the next event. But I still dug deep and never gave up.”
Allen told the Belfast Telegraph back in 2018 of his battle with mental health issues and last year admitted he was in the process of getting divorced from wife Kyla.
He said in the aftermath of Sunday’s win over John Higgins that he is in “a good place” mentally but did not offer specifics on the reasons that he may not be able to continue playing snooker.
“It has been a tough time away from the table but a lot of the things that have been going on the last 18 months have put things in clear perspective for me,” he said.
“I realise how much I love the sport even though I am not sure for how long I am going to able to play – it is out of my hands now, there is a threat of possibly not being able to play going forward.
“It has made me appreciate snooker and how much I love competing. I feel like I have got the game to compete against the very best.
“And to win a big tournament with all that stuff going on in the background I think shows where I am at mentally – in a good place.”
Alex Higgins made history when he became the first Northern Irishman to win snooker’s world title back in 1972 and repeated the success a decade later. Taylor would follow in 1985 with his legendary 18-17 final victory over Steve Davis.
And now Allen has spoken out about his dreams, and his ability, to join the exclusive class.
“It would be great if I could continue to play for a lot of years to come and I do believe I have the ability to bring back a world title back to Northern Ireland,” he said.
“It is tough – and you only get one chance a year.
“Snooker wouldn’t be where it is today if it wasn’t for the likes of Alex Higgins and Jimmy White. They were the benchmark in the 70s and 80s – rock stars really.
“They took snooker to new levels and obviously being from Northern Ireland I am very proud of that history, and looking to follow in Alex’s footsteps.
“I believe I can win a world title. There isn’t much difference to being able to win the other tournaments. It is the same players, just a longer distance.
“There is no reason I can’t do well at the Crucible. I haven’t got a great record there, but I didn’t have a great record in Belfast and I have won the title and turned that around.”