Matt Selt reckons hanging round with serial winner John Terry on a golf course may be rubbing off after reaching the final of the Turkish Masters.
The 37-year-old from Essex beat Chinese superstar Ding Junhui 6-5 in yet another final-frame thriller in Antalya in the first ranking tournament staged in the country and he will now take on Judd Trump in tomorrow's finale.
It is only a second major final for world No31 Selt, who won the short-format Indian Open three years ago.
But on Sunday he will compete for the £100,000 first prize over the best-of-19 frames in a much stiffer test in the Mediterranean resort.
Selt, a keen golfer, has been getting pep talks and texts from Terry all week – with the former Chelsea captain a regular partner on the Wentworth fairways.
The first semi-final incredibly became the 27th match over the past week to go to a decider in a tournament that has been jam-packed with drama from day one.
He said: “My snooker ability has never been in question – it is being able to play how I can on the TV tables has been a massive issue for me for 10 years.
“After collapsing at the Welsh Open against Kyren Wilson last week I didn’t even really want to come over here.
“John and I speak often, most days, along with another guy Kevin in that group and we play golf pretty much every week for the last nine months.
“They say you start to become the people who you hang around with, and these are very successful people so hopefully it might be rubbing off on me.
“I have been playing fantastically well this week which has been wonderful. I have had a couple of good runs this season and then not really made the most of them.
“In particular last week I felt I could do some damage but it didn’t happen. I only just managed to scrape through my first match in Turkey this week 5-4 against Alexander Ursenbacher.
“In that game I was 4-2 up but couldn’t get over the line, Alex didn’t take his chances to win and now I am in the final. That was a near miss, it could have been oh so different.
“But since then I have played some really good stuff until today which was my worst day scoring-wise of the week, but I was lucky to get some run of the ball in the deciding frame.
“I started well and led 3-0, but let him back into it and he won four in a row to be 4-3 up. But I hung in there and actually felt okay in that last frame when it got tense.
“There were a couple of balls I missed earlier in the match when I just thought ‘My god, I want to go home’, but I held it together at the end. It would have been criminal if I had lost that match.
“It is a privilege to be in the final and to get there with a win like that over a great player like Ding. That guarantees me my second biggest pay day, and those things are also important.
“We currently have half a tour without the Chinese events so every bit of money you win is really important.
“Even today I wasn’t as good as earlier in the week where I have bossed games and scored very heavily. I didn’t do that today, but somehow got to six frames first.
“Of course I count India as a ranking event win but some other players are quick to point out that it was a short final.
“This will be very different and not on the same day as the semis like that one, so sleeping the night before a final will be all new for me.
“I am managing to keep my emotions pretty much in check but I am clearly delighted and to win against a player of Ding’s calibre 6-5 in such a close match makes me proud – even though there were a few mistakes.”
World No3 Trump, 32, won the marquee evening semi-final against another Triple Crown winner in Shaun Murphy 6-2 on Saturday night.
The Juddernaut chalked up 14 ranking titles in the previous three campaigns but is yet to claim one this term after a patchy season. His last one came a year ago at the Gibraltar Open.
Trump came close last week as runner-up in the Welsh Open final, and his run in Turkey has also seen him gate-crash this month’s Tour Championship for the season’s best eight players.
Trump said: “I am very happy and excited to be back in a final for the second time in two weeks, and hopefully this time I can get it done. I have loved playing on the single table, it has been a totally different atmosphere. I am not playing my best yet, but I’m trying not to get too down on myself.
“Matt is having a good season and maybe plays his best stuff outside the UK. He is one of my best friends on the tour so I’ll really look forward to playing him in the final.”