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WDF World Championships: Lakeside triumph ‘still sinking in’ for Neil Duff

Neil Duff has said his goal of making a career from darts “is truly in his sights” after winning the World Darts Federation (WDF) World championship final last night (Sunday).

The Ballyclare man was crowned World darts champion at the Lakeside Country Club thanks to a thrilling 6-5 triumph over Thibault Tricole.

Wins over Justin Thompson, Nick Fullwell, Jim McEwan and Richard Veenstra had propelled to ‘The Duff Man’ to the final.

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The Northern Ireland captain received £50,000 on top of the trophy following his victory in what was his debut championship campaign at Frimley Green.

Neil Duff.

Speaking to the Newtownabbey Times today (Monday), Neil, who enjoyed an 87.73 average in last night’s showpiece, said: “I really haven’t had time for it to sink in yet. It was so emotional after the final and I battled through the media interviews without letting my emotions take over. I just know every time that someone says ‘champion of the world’ the hairs on the back of my neck stand and I don’t think that will ever change.

“It’s a massive thing to have the opportunity to play in that iconic venue. To win my debut match was unreal, but to play to a sold out final was unbelievable. I had messages from two former world champions this morning, Scott Mitchell and Glen Durrant and they both hit me with the same thing ‘welcome to the elite champions’ club.’ That blew my mind.

“The WDF really need so much respect for the work they have done to have a world championship. I will sit with my team in a week or so and decide what tour events we will attend. Winning the title affords me a guaranteed place for 2023 World Championship so we can pick where we want to go. I still have county commitments at home to retain my place on the international team with the six nations in June and the Europe Cup in Valencia in September.

“I have 12 months as world champion so there will be a lot of exhibition work to do.”

The 49-year-old, who also tasted success in the 2022 Slovak Masters, did not start playing darts until around 20 years ago.

Commenting on his journey through the sport, the England National Singles 2021 champion, explained: “My dad got me playing darts. He played a little at home so I started to play along then joined his team in the Ballyclare League.

“I moved up to county level, then the national team and I knew I could make a career from darts and now my goal is truly in sight.

“I’ll still work when I’m home when I can, I’ve worked all my life, so we will just see how the schedule for playing will shape up.

“I play for Whitehouse Working Men’s Club when I’m home. They are a great bunch of guys, more of a family than a team.

“I’m currently heading up north from the Lakeside. We have some promotional work in Liverpool and Airdrie, so hopefully I’ll be back home in Ballyclare on Wednesday.

“I’ll take a bit of a break over Easter, then we head to Ibrox Stadium on April 22 for a memorial exhibition for the late great Andy Fordham, which I’m really looking forward to being a Rangers supporter.

“Then the Scottish Open is the day after, which is a tour event I love, but it will be a little different this year as I’ll have the world championship trophy with me.

“I’d like to send a big thank you to everyone who has backed me. The support has been amazing, both from home and abroad. It’s been appreciated.”

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Neil Duff crowned World champion with Lakeside glory over Thibault Tricole