Selby delivered a tactical masterclass to win his first World Championship with an 18-14 win over tournament favourite Ronnie O'Sullivan at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre.
Selby was 8-3 and 10-5 down after different stages of the match but always looked the likelier winner of the tournament once he managed to move 12-11 clear at the end of the third session.
“My father died two months before I turned professional. His last words to me were that he wanted me to become world champion," revealed Selby after the match.
"I said I will do one day, it’s just a matter of when not if. Thankfully that day has come."
The man from Leicester lost the 2007 final to John Higgins, but all good things come to those who wait. His reward is the famous old pot and a cheque for £300,000.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet. It’s amazing really. To play Ronnie in the final was a dream come true because to win the world title you want him in it. He’s one of the best front-runners in the game. He was 8-3 and I wasn’t taking my chances but I kept digging in and nicking a few frames"
A dignified O'Sullivan admitted that the best man had won.
"He out-fought me, out-battled me and I’ve got no complaints. I fought my hardest.
"That’s the nature of sport. If you buy a raffle ticket and sign up to be a sportsman you accept the losses as well as the wins. You can’t have it all your own way all the time. I’ve had some great wins here but losing is part of the sport and you accept it. You have to go away, lick your wounds and try and go one better next time."
Ronnie O'Sullivan might go down in history as the greatest snooker player of all time but that just means you have to consider Selby's victory as one of the Crucible's all-time great performances. He might not be as aesthetically pleasing to watch as O'Sullivan, but he played to his strengths while nullifying his opponent's. To comeback from a seemingly insurmountable deficit shows there is nobody in the game with greater mental fortitude. He has been knocking on the door of a World Championship victory for a number of years, but now he can finally call himself a world champion, and it is great that he could fulfil his father's last wish with such class and professionalism.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
O'Sullivan must wait for next year in his bid to equal the hauls of Steve Davis and Ray Reardon with their six world titles while Stephen Hendry's record of seven remains tantalisingly on the horizon. However, his relationship with Dr Steve Peters seems to have helped him remarkably and his dignified reaction to defeat last night shows he is in a good place. Selby meanwhile becomes the world number one again and is certainly a player you could see finishing his career as a multiple world champion. The longer format suits his game as he can grind people down and the confidence he will gain from this victory can only help him kick on.
WHAT THE EXPERTS SAID
Steve Davis (Six time world champion and BBC Sport analyst): It was a monstrous performance from Mark, coming from behind. He is the only player who has not been dictated to by Ronnie O'Sullivan. It was absolutely clinical among the balls, a fantastic temperament. He is without doubt one of the most astonishing players in snooker. Every player knows how good some of the shots are.
David Hendon (Eurosport commentator and Inside Snooker blogger): Who is Mark Selby? He has been saddled with the Jester from Leicester tag, and indeed does like a laugh, but it amounts to little more than making the odd gag in the arena to relieve tension. What he does have is genuine humility, in victory or defeat. He likes people. Just half an hour before the second session of the world final on Sunday night he was happily posing for photos with snooker fans outside the Crucible. He doesn’t act like a superstar because he isn’t one. He’s a snooker player. That’s all he wants to be. It’s what he’s worked to be, and he’s worked harder than most.
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- Mark Selby