So far, so Gould. In the ongoing quest for enlightenment, there was something noble and refreshing, almost spiritual perhaps, about Martin Gould's performance at the European Masters in Milton Keynes that saw the likeable Londoner come up only one frame short of carrying off the trophy as a 125-1 long shot.
Playing fearlessly without any hint of self-doubt, Gould's time-served technique – and it must be said a timely new pair of specs – helped him oust John Higgins and Yan Bingtao in final-frame deciders, outscore world number one Judd Trump 6-3 in the last four before coming within a pot or two of usurping the three-times world champion Mark Selby in an absorbing final that saw him edged out 9-8 having trailed 4-0. He quite clearly belongs in such esteemed cue company.
Gould has returned to the apex of the sport with serious purpose after revealing he was on the brink of retiring only two months ago as he struggled to beat back the all-encompassing mental malaise of depression.
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He is a magnificent player to watch, easily inside the top 10 most entertaining players on the World Snooker Tour when the mood takes him, with a more than a touch of Trump or Ronnie O'Sullivan about him when his cue arm starts to flow.
He looks like he was born to play snooker such is his natural propensity to score among the balls and attack whenever he gets a sniff of an opportunity. His run to the final was based on a smart offensive strategy that enables him to benefit from his penchant for potting that included knocks of 131, 107, 96, 94, 70 and 65 in a glorious final.
“All I want to do is enjoy playing snooker," he said. "If I do that I can produce what I have done this week. There are a lot of positives to take.”
Prior to the World Championship qualifiers in July, Gould told this onlooker he had considered walking away from the game if he faced more despair having lost interest in snooker, but he revealed the UK lockdown in March had given him time to seek out professional help for his mental troubles as he threw himself back into practice.

‘What a brave shot’ – Gould holds his nerve in European Masters final

Buoyed by Motorhead's 'The Game' as his walk-on music of choice, the results have been heavier scoring than heavy metal, but not surprising given his calibre and class as a cueist of the highest order.
Having dropped to a lowly ranking of 60, he started to show his true ability that saw him carry off the German Masters in 2016 as he made it through three rounds of qualifiers with wins over Amine Amiri, Chris Wakelin and 2006 world champion Graeme Dott before filleting Stephen Maguire – fresh off his Tour Championship victory – 10-3 with four centuries and five breaks over 50.
He lost 13-9 to world finalist Kyren Wilson in the last 16, but the career trajectory was clear.
His renaissance has continued at the outset of this campaign with his scoring, long potting and attacking prowess belying the status of a player ranked 53 in the world. He will move up to 36 in the world after this latest surge and looks easily capable of revisiting the heights that saw him reach number 11 in 2012.
He is happy to talk openly and honestly about himself and is keen to offer advice to anybody else suffering from the bleak landscape of depression.
Gould was staring into the abyss earlier this year and it was staring right back at him, but he has displayed large dollops of bravery to get his mind and system back into what he calls his "happy place" amid life's unrelenting challenges.
The man nicknamed 'The Pinner Potter' no longer pins his happiness on his results on a snooker table, but will emerge a stronger character because of such wisdom.
It is not melodramatic to suggest that in a forgettable few months for society, the sight of a happier Gould represents a feel-good story that genuinely inspires beyond the old green baize.
Desmond Kane
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