Shaun Murphy
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Shaun Murphy – ‘I remember the shame of it’

Shaun Murphy recalled a moment at last year’s World Championship that helped him decide to get gastric surgery.

The Magician was talking to Stephen Hendry at the Alexandra Palace when he opened up about his struggles with overeating.

Having ballooned to nearly 20 stone in weight, Murphy underwent a gastric sleeve operation last summer – a procedure that removes a large part of the stomach.

The 40 year-old struggled for results throughout the 2021/22 campaign, but this season has been much more positive so far.

Murphy reached the semi-finals of the World Grand Prix earlier this month, having also made an appearance at the last-eight stage of the UK Championship in York.

“My game’s in good shape, and I’ve been quietly working on my game,” Shaun Murphy said on Stephen Hendry’s Cue Tips.

“I had quite serious gastric surgery two weeks after the World Championship, so that’s changed me physically. I’ve lost the bones of five stone.

“I had a situation at the World Champs where I was playing (Stephen) Maguire in the first round.

“It was quite a funny moment, neither of us could pot a ball in this particular frame. It just descended into carnage.

“I’m reaching over the table, trying to reach over a red and the pink to reach the cue ball. I’m six-foot-one, I should be able to reach the shot.

“But I couldn’t get my tummy over it, I couldn’t get there. I’d become so inflexible, so stiff, and just conscious of the weight.

“I reached over and actually fouled the pink with my shirt – it was quite funny. But I remember the shame of it.

“I already had the surgery booked that stage, but I remember walking back to my chair thinking that was the moment. Something’s got to go here.

“I wasn’t enjoying anything. Without going too deep, I was a proper broken person at that stage in my life.

“I was at a very low ebb, and of course anyone who has dealt with addiction issues over the years, food and overeating is as serious as over drinking, smoking, drugs or whatever.

“I was just in this spiral of playing poorly, off the table wasn’t great, I was eating too much, and that made me feel more miserable which led to more eating.

“It was a real mess, so when I had the surgery the effects were almost instantaneous. Within a month, I’d dropped nearly two stone. It changed me as a person.”

In an honest conversation with Hendry, Murphy also defended his decision to start television punditry and commentary work while still being a member of the top 16.

“I’ve taken a lot of criticism. There’s two things I will say. I’m still, even though I’m 40, I’m still that nine or ten year-old boy who loves it,” Murphy said.

“If I wasn’t playing, I’d be in the hotel or the house or wherever I’d be, and I’d be watching it.

“It’s not an act, it’s not a pun, it’s not a line, I still absolutely love the game. Nobody watches more snooker than me.

“So from the point of view of a tournament, I played on day one (at the Masters) and didn’t play again until day six.

“I don’t feel like I’ve reached the end of my career, I still feel I can be effective in tournaments. But I do feel it is the right time to start looking at other things.

“At some time I’ll want to move into this world, and if I leave it until then (the end of his playing career) it’ll be too late.

“The criticism I’ve taken for jumping into this world, I think it’s very unfair. If you watch enough footage, your Dennis Taylors who we all rave about, your John Virgos, they’ve been doing it for 40 years – whilst they were still playing.

“If you turn Eurosport on, Ronnie (O’Sullivan) is in the studio. He doesn’t take the same criticism that I’ve taken. I think it’s unfair.”

Featured photo credit: WST

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