Former world champion Shaun Murphy has revealed how he was “left for dead” by school bullies.
The 36-year-old – who was crowned 2005 Crucible champion in Sheffield, while living in neighbouring Rotherham – was beaten up by a gang of boys in his school toilet, while growing up in Northamptonshire.
“I lived in a very parochial town and because of what I did, I was in the local papers and on BBC Look East etc,” Murphy said.
“So I was singled out for a bit of abuse from the other kids. Kids can be really nasty. In the penultimate day of year nine, I was left for dead in the toilets at the school.
“I was beaten up by a group of lads at the school.
“ I was just left in a pool of my own... whatever.
“The Geography teacher took me home in her car that afternoon, she took me to the house and said to my mum and dad, ‘If you know what’s good for your son, don’t ever send him back to this school’.
“Over the next few days we came to the decision that we were never going to go back,” added Murphy, in an interview with BBC Radio Sheffield Snooker Heaven.
Murphy, who has taken himself off social media due to abusive messages this season, recovered from the horrible ordeal and famously conquered the world 14 years ago after arriving at the Crucible as an unknown qualifier.
But Murphy – who resumes his second-round match against Neil Robertson on Friday morning, trailing 5-3 in their best-of-25 frames match – revelled in his own success after getting the last laugh over his high school bullies.
He said: “I would love to sit here and tell you that when I won the World Championship and other tournaments I didn’t think of those lads, remember those times and didn’t get some satisfaction about the fact that I’d had the last laugh if you like.
“I would love to be big enough to say that didn’t happen but it did happen. I remember them very well and I never forgot them.
“I couldn’t wait to get out of the school system to be completely honest. I was educated at home and I took my GCSEs two or three years early. But for that decision I perhaps wouldn’t be sat here today.”
On the table, Murphy failed to pot a ball in the first three frames against Robertson but fought back to win two of the last three frames and could have compiled a maximum break in the last frame of the session.
After potting 13 reds and 13 blacks Murphy even paused to ask for the screen separating the tables to be lifted but went on to miss a tough final red into the middle pocket.
Robertson had earlier compiled breaks of 106, 79, 57 and 127 in a high-quality encounter between two players who had lost just one frame between them in the first round.
Two-time runner-up Ali Carter beat world No 11 Jack Lisowski 10-6 to advance to the second round.
Carter had to come through qualifying to make his 17th consecutive appearance at the Crucible, but now faces a last-16 clash with Sheffield-based Zhou Yuelong.
“I felt like I should have won 10-4 really, I felt like I outplayed him and he’s so talented, he’s Ronnie O’Sullivan all over again,” Carter said.
“At 9-4 he’s let his arm go and before I know it he’s made a 120-odd and I thought just stick to what you were doing all match and I’m delighted to get through.”