Scottish snooker sensation Alan McManus has called time on his 31-year professional career after a 6-3 defeat to Bai Langning in World Championship qualifying. “I won't play competitively at all,” he said after the defeat. “It has been nearly six months ago that I kind of made the decision and for me I'm happy with it, I'm really content.”
Having ended Stephen Hendry’s Masters dominance back in 1994 with an epic 9-8 win, McManus, now 50, has decided that now is the time to focus his attention elsewhere, after a difficult period.
“Yeah, I made the decision to stop playing at the end of this season, I made the decision before Christmas actually for a number of reasons. Quite a lot of reasons, through Covid, this year's been pretty tough and you know, I'm sort of working at tournaments and there are people with no one and it takes its toll. I've not been able to play so if this continues then, there is no point me playing. I would be off the tour now anyway, I'm not exactly sure anyway - so I'm pretty happy.”
Having won two ranking titles - the Dubai Classic and Thailand Open in the 1990s during a 31-year career, in recent years McManus has found himself at home in the television studio.
“Yeah, absolutely, I really love it - I do. I've said before it is a privileged position to have, so yeah, it has just been really difficult doing both and I'm 50 and I always thought 50 is a good old number - it is a young guys game now, you've got to face up to that. But I don’t have a problem with that, that is all fine and well.”
When asked about that incredible Masters win in 1994, McManus was as humble as ever. “It is funny, being Scottish we don't really like to talk about things like that - we really don't. That might sound a bit weird but I kind of don't. I just kind of like to leave it there, it is not a big thing. It maybe was at the time but not anymore. I've had some ups and downs, some good and some bad - more bad recently obviously. It has been brilliant to play all this time, it is a long time.”
Reflecting upon a great run in 2016 saw him make the semi-finals at the World Championships, McManus was once again less fussed about the final score, and more focused on his journey.
“For me it is not so much about results, it is the experience and I had a good experience and that was a thing. That is the thing I take from it, I don't take results or beating someone - that is not my thing. I just want the experience of it, and I had that which was pretty cool you know, five years ago.”
However, the former champion also spoke about the troubles he has faced in recent years, with the relentless nature of the sport.
“I'm probably too old for it anyway, I'm cool with it, it is no big thing. I'm absolutely fine with it, I will miss playing of course, but I'm not a guy to worry too much about that. I will miss playing, but I won't miss not having a life. cos that is what it is like. I am very fortunate, I am able to do a couple of jobs and I think about 26 of the last 30 weekends I have been working. It is a lot, it takes its toll.
“I am very fortunate that I get the chance to work with the people that I do and it is brilliant, i do enjoy it, but i kind of dont enjoy juggling a couple of balls and this drive to try and maintain a level dissipates a little as things happen. That is no way to be in this game, you have got to be hungry. 'let's go, let's get a grip of this'. That's not there anymore. I feel that it is not there. I feel that I don't mind. Some guys will say they are not that bothered but I really am not that bothered at times. I'm like, ‘oh well’.
“I had a rough time before Christmas, being away from home and I really struggled with it. Also, let's hope we come out of Covid, obviously, very quickly and in recent years I've really struggled with any long haul travel, I get pretty, and I'm not saying this lightly I get traumatised by it in quite a way. I can't do that anymore.”
Having watched Stephen Hendry’s comeback this year, McManus also confirmed there is no chance of him returning to the sport.
“No, there's no comeback. Hendry could come back and do whatever. He's a different thing. I'm just happy, I'm settled and I'm content at not playing. I'll miss some bits - the snooker. Four each deciders, that is the time that you find out who you are, really who you are. That is why when I watch. I don't watch the table you watch the guy, who he is and who he is going to be and who he can become in that minute and that is the fascination for me so i'll probably miss a bit of that. Also the game, just for me personally, on a sort of working level, I'm in an environment where practise wise and things, I don't get practise but even when I did I was in the place myself and it is different from when you grow up - your mates and things, they have all gone. So it is a bit of a lonely existence."