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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 7 March 2021

Emirati snooker champion pays tribute to Welsh legend Doug Mountjoy

The two-time former UK champion had a huge impact on snooker in the UAE

Portrait of snooker player Doug Mountjoy of Wales as he lines up the cue ball, circa 1982. Getty Images
Portrait of snooker player Doug Mountjoy of Wales as he lines up the cue ball, circa 1982. Getty Images

A UAE snooker champion paid an emotional tribute to Doug Mountjoy, former coach and legend of the sport, who died this week after suffering a stroke.

The Welsh player from Tir-y-Berth, Gelligaer, Glamorgan died at the age of 78.

He was considered one of the greatest snooker players of all time and remained in the top 16 ranked players in the world for 11 consecutive years.

If you have a statue made of different parts, Doug would be its foundation

Mohamed Shehab, Emirati snooker champion

After declaring bankruptcy and retiring as a player in 1997, Mr Mountjoy came to Dubai where he changed the face of local snooker.

He inspired future Emirati champions when he coached the UAE Snooker Association between 1997 and 1999.

News of his death shook the team who have fond memories of their former coach and credit him for their success.

Emirati Mohamed Shehab first started training with Mr Mountjoy when he was 18.

"If you have a statue made of different parts, Doug would be considered its foundation. All my successes, I owe to him," said the winner of the Snooker Singles at the 2007 Asian Indoor Games.

“I am considered to be an icon to Emirati players but this would never have been possible without Doug."

Mr Shehab, 43, was the first Emirati to reach the final of the Asian Snooker Championship.

Doug Mountjoy, PJ Nolan and Mohamed Shehab pictured as the UAE snooker team won their third Gulf Championship in 1997. Courtesy: Mohamed Shehab
Doug Mountjoy, PJ Nolan and Mohamed Shehab pictured as the UAE snooker team won their third Gulf Championship in 1997. Courtesy: Mohamed Shehab

“I will never forget Doug’s love for the game and how he always pushed us to improve," he said.

"He was a legend and we were lucky to have him as a coach. He was the first player to ever get three centuries in one frame and only after he made the world realise that it was possible did other players follow and break that record.”

In snooker, a century break is a break of 100 points or more in one visit to the table without missing a shot.

“I remember when we went the Thailand in 1997 with Mountjoy and the respect we got for having him in our team," said Mr Shehab.

"He always believed in us and told us that we had everything to be champions."

Mr Shehab still follows playing techniques that Mountjoy had shown him.

“Many players change their techniques but I followed Doug’s methods and that is what has helped me improve and get better over the years,” he said.

A heavy cigarette smoker, Mountjoy was diagnosed with lung cancer and had a lung removed in 1993 before coming to Dubai.

“We all remember how he used to walk around the snooker table and how his body tilted to the right because he only had one lung but most of all was his passion and enthusiasm for the game,” Mr Shehab said.

He recalls an incident when Doug told his father, also a snooker player, that the “lad was playing well”.

“My English wasn’t as strong at the time and I remember asking my father who the “lad” was and that I didn’t know any players named lad," the Emirati said.

Mountjoy was married to Yvonne, a hairdresser, and they had two children, Yvette and Caerleon.

Shehab said his wife attended many games played in the UAE.

Updated: February 20, 2021 07:01 PM

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