Much has been written about Mark Allen in the last year but very little of it has been about what he’s done on the table.
This has largely been his own doing but he proved again tonight by winning the third European Tour title of the season in Antwerp just what a terrific, big occasion player he is.
Before a huge crowd, Allen stylishly compiled three successive centuries to lead Mark Selby 3-0 and killed off a 4-1 victory after the world no.1 had averted the whitewash.
It’s rarely said but is worth stating: in the arena, Allen is one of the most sporting of all the top players.
He apologises for flukes and is gracious when things go against him. Television sport is supposed to be entertainment and he likes to entertain. He expresses his emotions.
At the Shootout last season he spontaneously gave his t-shirt to a young spectator when he was knocked out.
Allen is donating money from his Premier League campaign to help raise funds for medical treatment for a young lad back in Northern Ireland who is seriously ill.
These are all admirable attributes and are allied to a fine attacking game which once again bore fruit in Belgium.
It’s one thing to have the talent but quite another to have the nerve. It comes from an iron self belief and this is less easy to teach or learn than how to pot balls.
Allen was used to winning when he turned professional, having captured the Northern Ireland amateur titles at all age levels, the world amateur crown and European amateur and junior trophies.
Instead of moaning about ‘the system’ he proved that if you are good enough you can come through by joining the top 16 after only three seasons on the circuit.
He came very close to winning the UK Championship last year and has been a semi-finalist at the World Championship and Masters.
Allen revels in a good atmosphere. The matches he loses are often when the environment is more prosaic.
As he said himself afterwards, the PTCs aren’t much fun when it’s the proverbial one man and his dog watching but a packed house gets the juices flowing.
And the Antwerp crowds, particularly on Sunday, were large and vociferous, once again underlining the interest in snooker on continental Europe.
Following Selby’s victory in Furth and Neil Robertson’s in Gdynia, the final was once again won by one of snooker’s leading lights.
And there will surely be plenty more silverware for Mark Allen.