Triumphant Mark Selby revelled in securing membership to an exclusive club after claiming his third World Championship in four years with victory over a dogged John Higgins at the Crucible.
Selby, 33, triumphed 18-15 to pocket a record £375,000 in prize money and join Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O’Sullivan in winning back-to-back world titles in the modern era.
“I can’t believe it, I’m pinching myself,” said Selby, who gained revenge for his defeat to Higgins in the 2007 final. “It’s very special. To get over those two wins and to be sitting with three world titles out there on my own is unbelievable.
“To be one of only four players to defend it is something I could only dream of.”
Four-time winner Higgins, who described Selby as “granite” and a “fantastic champion”, had led 10-4 before the Englishman fought back to win nine of 10 frames and lead 13-11.
“When I was 10-4 down I was missing everything and had nothing left,” added Selby. “I said ‘pull yourself together’. If you lose, you want to at least go down fighting.”