Snooker’s manager to the stars on working with Trump, Robertson and O’Sullivan
In our exclusive interview, Django Fung explains how 'your phone’s always on' when representing the sport’s brightest talents…
"Have I seen you before?"
Django Fung has, but it was over a year ago and only brief. There’s no way…
"In Romford," he recalls, "with Carroll and the full-back who’s gone back to Arsenal… Jenkinson."
Perhaps, though, it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that the accountant, multi-business owner and snooker manager to the stars also happens to be a stickler for details.
Fung's stable, Grove, has Judd Trump and Neil Robertson as its stellar clients, while the talented Oliver Lines and Luca Brecel are also on the books.
'Ronnie lived down the road'
It is because of a now former client, however, that the Hong Kong-born businessman – who bought the Grove snooker club in Romford in the mid-2000s because he was playing "three or four times a week" – ended up in this line of work.
"Ronnie O’Sullivan lived in Chigwell, which is down the road," says Fung, speaking in the press room at the Betway UK Championship.
"He heard about the club, that it’s good, and one Sunday afternoon talked to the managers and said: 'I want a match practice table here.'
"I got to know Ronnie, and then I did his accounts for a couple of years.
"After that, he said: 'Why don’t you just manage me as well?'"
'I only do full image rights, exclusive management'
That was almost a decade ago, and Fung has been representing players ever since.
"There’s a difference between agents and managers," he clarifies in response to a question that failed to distinguish between the two.
"There are a lot of agents about. Basically, you’re just getting sponsorship deals one-off, or maybe one-off exhibitions.
"I only do full image rights, exclusive management."
"I only work with people that I like," he says. "We trust each other, so I take care of the financial stuff, properties, legal…"
'I treat all of them equal'
Fung acknowledges the presence of a nearby World Snooker employee and smiles.
"If they actually run into problems with [the game’s governing body], we have to go to disciplinary and all that, you know?
"We give advice on everything. And if there’s something I don’t know, I make sure I find someone that does."
Not long after our conversation, Fung’s client Lines achieved the most significant win of his career so far, defeating Grove Trump in the second round of the UK Championship.
So what does the manager do when two of his players face each other?
"I stay away," he says. "I stay away because there’s good news and bad news, and I treat all of them equal.
"The work and advice is done and, on the day, the best man wins."
'From then on he had a second phase of his career'
When asked for his favourite memories of working with Trump and Robertson, Fung references their triumphs at this tournament, in 2011, 2013 and 2015 respectively.
The highlight of his career, though, is not directly related to the sport’s Triple Crown events.
"Getting Ronnie to see Steve Peters," he says.
"It took me three years to convince him. Eventually, he listened, and from then on he had a second phase of his career.
"He won two more World titles, got an OBE – it gave him a different life.
"It just shows you that, for such a talented guy, with the right people around you giving you the right advice, you can kick on to do something even better."
'You’ve got to apply the game properly'
According to Fung, there are three attributes – in addition to financial help – that a player must have to reach the top of the game.
"First of all, you have the ability," he says.
"You’ve got to have a will to win.
"And also a good head – you’ve got to apply the game properly."
Fung was "never" going to make it as a snooker player, although he does know how to hold a cue.
"I’m alright," he says, laughing. "I make 90 breaks.
"The best bit of snooker I’ve had was playing Steve Davis off level in one frame."
"I beat him."
'I should be spending one tenth of the time on snooker'
That’s a story Fung will presumably never tire of telling, and it is obvious from spending 15 minutes in his company that he is not in this for the money.
"In terms of turnover, I should be spending one tenth of the time on snooker," he says.
"But I’m spending about half and half at the moment.
"You want to be with the players as much as possible, to see how they perform and react to different situations."
As well as managing his other business interests, Fung attends "50 to 60 per cent" of tournaments, including "two or three" in China.
It sounds like a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week job.
"It is," he says. "But I think if you’re a manager, your phone’s always on. And they know that.
"Whatever they need, I’m there."
Watch Mark Selby and Neil Robertson take our Crazy Snooker challenge