Shaun Murphy on being a dad and learning from Danny Willett
In our exclusive interview, the 34-year-old discusses getting married, signing with Chubby Chandler's agency and "re-dedicating" himself to snooker.
Shaun Murphy married his fiancé, Elaine, in June.
The couple’s baby boy, Harry, was born three months later.
Murphy also found time during the summer to sign – well, shake hands – with Chubby Chandler, whose ISM stable manages some of the world’s best athletes.
In the media centre at the York Barbican – venue of this year’s Betway UK Championship – Murphy reflected on his "massive year", and revealed how he has "re-dedicated" himself to snooker.
Marriage and a child – how are you finding it all?
I’m absolutely loving it. Getting married was fantastic, and then that was obviously leading up to the big event, which was the birth of our first child.
It’s given us a new perspective on everything we do. It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to either one of us, by a mile.
Still finding the time to practice?
Yeah… the first few weeks were obviously difficult.
It was very new and very exciting. You know, every grimace or grin that he gave was a world event and I wanted to be there for everything.
But, at the end of the day, you’ve got to go back to work, and the last couple of months I’ve really re-dedicated myself.
Andy Murray said that becoming a dad had made him a better player because, whether he won or lost, he knew there were bigger things in the world than his sport. Have you found that?
Snooker – and I’m sure my wife won’t mind me saying this – outside of her and my family was the most important part of my life from eight years of age. Now that’s not true.
I used to be a terrible loser. It would take me days to get over a loss. Now it takes me five minutes, because I quickly realise I’m going to go home to my wife and little boy.
I think that change of perspective changes the way you think about the game. Going into matches now, wound-up and stressed about getting the victory, all of that’s disappeared. I’ve got a completely different way of looking at life, on and off the table.
You’re still young in snooker terms, but you’ve been at the top of the game for a long time. Do you still enjoy playing as much as you did?
I love snooker now more than I ever have done. Just watching it on the telly, some of the scenarios that come up are quite unbelievable. The way it mirrors life, in a funny kind of way…
In what sense?
The injustices of it, the things that can go wrong and that are out of your control.
You know, last week [at the Northern Irish Open] was a classic for me. I prepared well for Belfast and was in great shape, but went there and scored eight points in four frames and lost 4-0.
I got to watch the whole event at home. I made myself practice with the snooker on as a bit of punishment, and a bit of inspiration to practice harder.
You do motivational speaking and lots of stuff for the BBC. Is that something you’ve always wanted to do alongside playing?
Absolutely, yeah. It’s always a balancing act. At what stage, having dipped my toe, do I go shoulder deep and immerse myself in that world?
I don’t think I’m quite ready for it yet, but doing the little player profiles, the odd bit of studio work and commentary here or there is something I’d love to get involved with.
If I’m not playing snooker, I’m watching it, so I may as well watch and talk about it at the same time and maybe pass on a bit of knowledge to somebody watching somewhere else.
You joined ISM this year. How did that come about?
Through a mutual friend, the opportunity to meet Chubby came. We shook hands straight away – there was an immediate rapport.
I love golf and play a lot of golf, so we’ve got that in common. He was telling me about stories when he used to be involved in snooker in the early eighties, so we also have that in common.
I think it could be the start of a really good relationship.
A few weeks ago I was in Shanghai for a couple of days and I took myself to the golf there. I was following Danny Willett around and watching Matt Fitzpatrick and a couple of the other boys on the range.
I know one of things the golfers like is that in an individual sport, which can be quite lonely, being part of that collective is a nice thing.
I texted Chubby the other day wishing Fitzpatrick all the best from me and my family, I know Danny Willett pretty well and my coach is working with Lee Westwood and Joost Luiten.
It’s nice to feel part of something that is a bit more holistic.
Have you been able to learn anything from them?
It’s the effort they put into their work. The top golfers are much busier than we are – travelling the world, playing every week and doing work with their sponsors and corporate hospitality.
Seeing how military they are about their practice time made me revaluate my time. I wander into my snooker room with a cup of coffee, put Sky News on and think I’ve worked hard. Those guys are on the range until the sun goes down.
It put things into perspective a little bit.
Played golf with any of them?
I haven’t yet. It’s been one of those funny things, I’ve been invited to the pro-am of every event and, unfortunately, it’s coincided with our own season being very hectic.
So none of them have witnessed my massive push slice [laughs].
We’ll finish with some on-the-table stuff. What do you still want to achieve in this sport?
I’d love to get to the top of the rankings. Three’s been my career-best. You know, stats don’t tell lies. So to know you are the number one player must be very special.
I also think there’s a special place that’s reserved for players who have won the World title more than once. So to be a multiple world champion is my goal and something I’m going to take a good 10 years to try and achieve.
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