Neal Foulds was the latest guest for Stephen Hendry on Cue Tips, where he spoke about growing up with the likes of Jimmy White.
In another excellent episode of the seven-time world champion’s popular YouTube channel, Foulds also discussed his retirement and subsequent role as a commentator and pundit.
The Englishman had a 20-year professional career in which he reached a career-high ranking of number three in the world.
Success came at the International Open in 1986, Pot Black in 1992, and he was also a member of the winning World Cup teams of 1988 and 1989.
But despite having once been a regular presence at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, where he reached the semi-finals in 1987, Foulds admits to never missing having a cue in his hand.
“It fills me with fear thinking that I might have to be playing the game again,” Neal Foulds said on Stephen Hendry’s Cue Tips.
“When I stopped playing, I had no regrets at all – none at all. I was quite relieved.”
“I had fallen down the rankings, and I wasn’t playing very well. I was dropping down the rankings and coming towards the end.
“I was only 39, so it’s not old now. But back then it felt quite old. I just wasn’t playing well.
“I said to my dad that I’m playing in the World Championship qualifiers and I’m not going to play after that.
“He hadn’t been coming to all the matches as much, so (I said) if you want to come along, come. But that’s going to be the end of it.
“I didn’t make a fuss over it. Nobody really cares if anyone like me retires, and I didn’t want to make a deal about it.
“I’ve no regrets. I think I played in the (World) Seniors one year, which I never should have done.
“I used to have a game with my dad at Christmas, but he’s in poor health for about five years now, so he can’t get around the table.”
His father Geoff Foulds was also a professional player on the main tour, although he never reached the same heights as his son.
Foulds senior was a strong amateur in the game during the 1960s and 1970s, however, and knew a lot of the stars of the time.
It meant that Neal grew up knowing the likes of Dennis Taylor and Cliff Thorburn, who would go on to become world champions.
Jimmy White was also an up-and-coming talent around this period, and a player who Neal Foulds has distinct memories of.
“I can remember I was in the club in Neasdon having a game of snooker, and my dad was there on this day.”
“He said to have a game with that lad over there. I didn’t know why he said it, and it was Jimmy.
“I couldn’t believe it. I was 12, and he was 13. He was so much better than me at that stage.
“He was the oldest 13 year-old you ever met – he was smoking, gambling, and all these things. He’s never actually been young, has he?
“He had a completely different lifestyle to me, but straight away I knew he was special.
“And Tony Meo, people don’t realise but Tony Meo was as good as Jimmy.”
After retiring in 2003, Foulds soon became a regular presence at various snooker tournaments as a commentator and pundit.
His role at ITV began at the 2013 World Open, and he has been a regular on that team since then while also working for other broadcasters like Eurosport and the BBC.
Snooker commentary gets a lot of criticism online, but Foulds is widely regarded as being arguably the best in the business.
“I like to try and be objective now. Sometimes, you just can’t help but sit on the fence a little bit.”
“Missing balls is one thing, every player misses blacks off the spot. But it’s when there’s maybe a wrong shot or a poor decision.
“I think you can categorically say that something was a poor decision – he should have done this or should have done that.
“Sometimes, you can be wrong. I try and be critical sometimes, but I don’t think all the players like it.
“Three different players have got in touch with me over something I’ve said, but in a way I don’t mind that.
“I’d rather that than they just not speak to me.”
Recently, Hendry was criticised for not knowing any information about Champion of Champions participant Baipat Siripaporn when asked live on ITV.
It prompted a fiery retort from fellow pundit Shaun Murphy, who branded it as “really poor”.
“On that argument, I don’t agree with what Shaun said. I would tell you if I did,” Foulds told Hendry.
“You’re the joker in the pack really, aren’t you? You can do what you want, because you’ve won all those world titles.”
“I can’t get away with that (not doing research), because otherwise what is the point of me being there?
“I didn’t agree with Shaun. I think Shaun just likes to be involved in something a little bit different.
“He wants to put himself out there, doesn’t he? That’s what it is.”
Featured photo credit: Lez Franiak