VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: I was stupid - but ban made me a better player, says ex World Snooker champ Stuart Bingham
Ex-World Snooker Champ Stuart Bingham has told how he is hoping to regain the title after a ban for breaking betting rules - saying he was stupid but it has made him a stronger person and a better player.
In an exclusive chat, on the eve of the 2019 World Snooker Championships at Sheffield Crucible, he spoke about his emotional return to the sport, how his game is back in good shape and he has his sights on the world title.
BUY TICKETS: The Betfred World Snooker Championship is at Sheffield Crucible from April 20 to May 6 - tickets are now limited, but available for some sessions at www.worldsnooker.com and www.cruciblesnooker.com.
VIDEO: Watch the full interview with Stuart Bingham on our embedded YouTube player - or CLICK HERE.
PREVIEW: Watch the full World Snooker Championship official media day press conference in full, which we earlier streamed live on Facebook and is now available on demand - CLICK HERE.
Bingham, aged 42, of Basildon, currently ranked 12th best in the world, described the 'unbelievable feeling' of winning in 2015 and reveals his memorabilia includes the table he won on.
Two years later, in 2017, the mood changed when he was found guilty of breaking World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) rules on betting on matches.
He received a six month ban, of which, three months and a day were suspended, and was also ordered to pay £200,000 in costs. The partial ban expired at the end of January last year.
After a poor return, failing to qualify for the first two ranking events, he went on to win the English Open and said he was 'choked up' afterwards interviewed by presenter Andy Goldstein. He went on to reach the semi-finals of the UK Championship in December.
Bingham said it was tough both on and off the table following on from his ban the previous year, but he was thrilled to go back to winning ranking titles.
In a frank and honest chat - watch the full video here - he said of breaking betting rules: "I was stupid.
"I just had a bet as a normal punter would,
"The thing is, I've been a pro for 25-years and that law wasn't in the game when I turned pro. It's only of late that it's changed.
"But yes, it was stupid on my part. I held my hands up, did my time and I'm moving on.
"I feel like it's made me a stronger person and a better player for it.
":Winning the English Open, Andy Goldstein gave me a cuddle and that was it. I was choked up. I know what I've done. I know I've never tried to miss a pot on purpose. I know the truth."
Bingham and Ken Doherty are the only players to have won world titles at both amateur and professional levels,
So what's it like to actually be crowned world champion?
He said: "It's an unbelievable feeling. A bit of my brain sort of forgets about it and it feels like it was 20-years ago, But every now and then it's fresh n the memory.
"I've got a practice room at the bottom of the garden and I've got the table that I won on. I've got memorabilia of that year and I just have to pinch myself every now and then. I still can't believe it did happen."
He said: "I've had a good season, up until now.
"It does come down to this. If you get beaten the first round here you sort of say you've had a bad season."
And of his chances of regaining the world title he added: "You would be a brave person to say it wouldn't happen again. My game is in good shape. Very similar year to what I dd in 2014-15. So obviously I'm hoping t will happen again.
"If not, so what. I've got my hands on that trophy once, that's enough."