John Higgins has opened up about his six month ban – a story that rocked the sport of snooker back in 2010.
During the 2010 World Snooker Championship, the News of the World newspaper ran a story on an undercover sting they had conducted involving Higgins and his former manager Pat Mooney.
The publication filmed a meeting in Kyiv where Higgins appeared to agree to lose frames in upcoming tournaments for a fee of £300,000.
After an independent hearing, the Scot was ultimately cleared of match-fixing but handed a six-month ban for bringing the sport into disrepute amid failing to report the approach.
The four-time world champion has revealed that it was the most difficult period of his life both on and off the table as he also dealt with ongoing health issues with his father.
“Without a doubt, without a doubt (it was the hardest period of my life). You didn’t know if you were ever going to be picking a cue up again,” John Higgins said on the Talking Snooker Podcast.
“Your career was in the hands of independent committees, and they were obviously going to be looking at everything.”
“You just had to put your trust in them that they were going to come to the correct decision, and then obviously you have to try and get your career back on track again.
“I still don’t think I’ve really got over it, when I think of my private life at the time and my dad wasn’t well at all. Aye, they were tough times.
“I’ve never been interested in being on front pages – I don’t know if I’d ever be famous enough to be on the front pages anyway.
“But it always seems to be for the wrong reasons when people are on the front pages. It’s never good news in a way, it’s always bad news or perceived bad news.
“I think what it done to my family at the time (I haven’t got over). I lost my dad later on, and obviously it was a terrible illness what my dad had at that time.
“But there are some things that obviously you sometimes think, if that never happened, you don’t know if he could have lasted longer.
“That’s a tough part, that side of it. But that’s just life, isn’t it? You’ve just got to get on with it.
“I suppose in a way I did have a lot of anger, I’ve got to be honest. In the next seven or eight months, there was a lot of anger involved.
“But I knew I couldn’t keep that with me, because it just wasn’t me as a person. It wasn’t how I could probably go forward.
“I know people could have said a few things, and that’s just obviously what they were thinking at the time.
“If you’d had kept that anger sort of within you, it would have ended up breaking you. It would have ended up bursting you from the inside.
“You’ve got to let that go and then try to be the same person you are again.”
When John Higgins returned from his ban, he produced one of the best sequences of form of his entire career during the remainder of the 2010/11 snooker season.
The Wizard of Wishaw won his first tournament back in November, winning the Ruhr Championship by defeating Shaun Murphy in the final.
About a month later, Higgins triumphed in the UK Championship with a remarkable fight back from 9-5 down to beat Mark Williams in a decider.
An emotional success in the Welsh Open followed in February in which Higgins dedicated the title to his father who had recently passed away.
Higgins capped off a remarkable comeback by winning the World Championship crown for a fourth time, overcoming Judd Trump in a memorable showdown at the Crucible Theatre.
“The most focused I ever was – I felt in my whole career – was when I came back after my ban,” Higgins said.
“I put everything into the six or seven months before the World Championships, and then my dad was really poorly at the time.”
“That is probably when I put my heart and soul and everything into those seven months. It took a hell of a lot out of me really.
“It must have been meant to be. You were coming back and maybe some good things were going to happen for you.
“I really can’t remember much of those seven or eight months. They really were a blur, and they still are.”
Featured photo credit: WST