A SNOOKER player is hoping to fulfil his dream of becoming world champion after setting up his training base in the North-East - leaving his young family on the other side of the world.

Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, who now lives and trains in Darlington, made his first appearance at the World Snooker Championships at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield this week.

The Northern Echo: Thepchaiya Un-Nooh is dejected after missing a red on the way to a 147 break during his match against John Higgins during day five of the 2018 Betfred World Championship at The Crucible, Sheffield. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday April 25

Thepchaiya Un-Nooh is dejected after missing a red on the way to a 147 break during his match against John Higgins. Picture: PA

The 33-year-old, who is originally from just outside Bangkok, in Thailand, where his wife and two children, aged six and four still live, lost to four-time world champion John Higgins in the opening round.

But despite his defeat by ten frames to seven, he still made a name for himself after missing the final red as he was set to complete a 147 break.

Un-Nooh admitted he was nervous during the opening session of the match, but relaxed as it went on.

“It was excellent to get to the Crucible - it was a dream to play there and my dream came true.

“I hope to be back and to win it one day. I am going to have a rest now the season is over, and next year my target will be to win a ranking event for the first time.”

Discussing the missed 147, he said: “I was trying to get into position for the next shot - I put a lot of side on it to get back up the table. The red wasn’t the hard bit.

“My first thought was that is £50,000 gone,” he added, as that is the combined prize a player receives for compiling a 147-break and the highest break in the competition.

Un-Nooh, who is the fifth Thai player to compete in snooker’s biggest event, plays at Q House Snooker Academy, at Enterprise House on Valley Street North in Darlington.

The club is run by Chusak Phetmalaikul, who is hoping to bring up to six Chinese players to Darlington next year to practice, and expand the club from five tables to nine.

Mr Phetmalaikul, whose son, Quid, is also a top under 21 player, said: “There is a real Thai community here so Thepchaiya feels a lot more comfortable - he wants to bring his wife and children over.

“This is the best place for snooker in the North, and his success is massive for Darlington.

"With the help of the council and local businesses and sponsorships, we can make Darlington the place people are talking about in Asia.

“In the future, players from around the world will be coming to Darlington.”

Before the World Championships, Un-Nooh, who took up the sport when he was 13, was training for up to seven hours a day.

“I was quite old when I started, but my brothers all played, and that inspired me,” he said.

Mike Dunn, head coach at the Q House Snooker Academy, said: “It is great for the North-East - we haven’t had a lot of players based in the region for a long time.

“The sport gets attention in York during the UK Championships and in Sheffield for the World Championships, so it is great for this area.”