Candid Mark Selby is using his own experience of depression and despair to urge the nation to ‘cry for help’ if lockdown is affecting their mental health, writes Will Jennings.
The Leicester player was beaten 6-3 by Stephen Maguire in the Masters but gave an honest BBC interview before the match where he admitted he almost committed suicide after the death of his father, David, when he was 16.
David died in 1999 and was unable to see his son’s glittering snooker career – which has included three World Championship titles, three Masters and a pair of UK Championship crowns.
Selby, the world No.4, is still taking anti-depressants and sent a powerful message to anyone struggling with Britain in a third national lockdown.
The 37-year-old said: “It is tough.
“Obviously when people are going through depression, it is very, very tough. Times like this don’t make it any easier as well, because you’re locked in your house and have so much time to think about stuff.
“When I was going through it – and even now, I’m still on the medication to this day – I was going to see the professional people and they were telling me to do things that you enjoy, and try to keep your mind active.
“But it’s difficult when you’re going through times like this. The things you do enjoy you can’t do, so the only thing you can do is speak to the professional people, speak to your family and cry for help and get them to help you.”
On his defeat against world No.8 Maguire, Selby added: “I don’t think I played shockingly bad, I just thought Stephen played really well from the word go.
“Every time he got a chance, he looked like he was going to score in one visit. He looked really comfortable out there and really happy with his game.
“He’s a class act and he’s definitely underachieved in the game – he should have won a lot more.”
On the table, Selby has been in red-hot form this season but struggled for his usual fluency on the Marshall Arena baize.
The European Masters and Scottish Open champion never led against Maguire and despite levelling at three frames apiece, was unable to get over the line.
The 19-time ranking event winner struck breaks of 79, 54 and 50 but an imperious display from Maguire – who has been out of sorts this season – booked a quarter-final date with Chinese star Yan Bingtao in Milton Keynes.
Next up for Selby is a crack at the inaugural Pro Series before next month’s Welsh Open at Celtic Manor.
The Crucible clock is rapidly ticking and Selby, last crowned world champion in 2017, insists his game is in near-perfect condition heading into the business end of the season.
“In general, I’m happy with my game,” he added.
“Today, I didn’t really perform nowhere near where I’d like to but overall, coming into this tournament, my game couldn’t have really been in better shape.
“I suppose the break over Christmas came at the wrong time, but that’s the way it is. It’s back on the practice table now and looking forward to the next one. Some days you just turn up and it doesn’t happen, and that was one today.”
Watch the London Masters live on Eurosport and Eurosport app from Jan 10