Robert 'The Milkman' Milkins admits he would love to deliver more success next season after finally experiencing the buzz of lifting a ranking title at the Gibraltar Open in March.
The flamboyant Gloucester potter defeated Lei Peifan (4-0), Jamie Wilson (4-1), Mark Allen (4-3), Lyu Haotian (4-2), Ben Hancorn (4-2) and Jak Jones (4-2) before a 4-2 final success against Kyren Wilson saw him end a 27-year wait for a major trophy.
At the age of 46, he became the oldest maiden ranking winner since Doug Mountjoy defeated Stephen Hendry 16-12 to lift the 1988 UK Championship.
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His success remarkably came a fortnight after his birthday celebrations turned sour when he was taken to hospital at the Turkish Masters in Antalya to have his stomach pumped after excess alcohol consumption.
Milkin collected £50,000 for his efforts and revealed the winner's cheque was a massive boost.
“I was in such a bad place, I can’t even explain it. I’ve never been like it before. Financially and my mental state was so bad," said Milkins.
"I was struggling. I was practising, but not as much as I wanted to. I couldn’t be bothered to do anything.
I was struggling to be able to put food down for the kids. I didn’t really want to play. I couldn’t afford to get my table recovered and at times I couldn’t even afford to pay £30 petrol to go and play against somebody else. I’m moving on now and this win is so big for me.
“My children told everyone about it at school. They were buzzing. When I am doing the school run now, there are so many parents coming up to me and saying well done. Only two weeks before that they were looking at me in a dodgy way.
"I had my hands over my face, with my hood up, because of what I’d done. When I came back from Gibraltar the hood came off my head and I was walking around with a bit of pride again."
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Milkins had reached six semi-finals since turning professional in 1995, but was enduring a miserable campaign before his trip to Gibraltar with only three wins and no appearances beyond the last 64 of any event.
He lost 5-4 to Ding Junhui from 4-1 ahead in the second round to compound his misery in Turkey.
“With Turkey and what happened there, then moving on to Gibraltar it was all so surreal. It still hasn’t really sunk in. How can you go from such a low in one tournament to the next one being a complete contrast? It was absolutely crazy,” Milkins told WST.
“I held my hands up in Turkey and it was the biggest mistake I’ve made in 27 years as a professional. It is probably the only real time I’ve got in trouble. The next tournament was the best result I’ve ever had as a professional. It is a lot to take in but looking back at it, things have worked out in the end.”
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Milkins will start the new season – which begins with the Championship League in Leicester later this month – as world No 27 and admits he proved to himself he can handle the pressure.
“That is such a bit weight off my shoulders winning a tournament. I’ve been in the top 16, I’ve been to the Crucible and I’ve made maximums. Now winning a tournament is amazing. I haven’t done brilliantly in the game, but I’ve done alright," he said.
"I think that could be the moment I needed. I’m alright financially at the moment as well. The top players don’t know what it is like when you are struggling to find where the next pound is coming from. That helps as well.
"I’m not saying I will consistently be in the latter stages, but if I get to that position again there won’t be so much pressure.”
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