Encouraged by family and friends, Paul spent many hours at the practice table, and by the age of 12, had become an outstanding junior talent. Under the careful guidance of experienced professionals, the Leeds youngster made his debut amongst the professional ranks in July 1995, at the age of 16.
Paul turned professional in 1995 and made an impact at 17 when he reached the last four of the Regal Welsh Open in 1996, and then two years later, in 1998, he returned to the Newport Centre to pick up his first world ranking title.
Paul won his first ranking title in 1998, when he claimed the Regal Welsh. He repeated that feat in 2002 before winning the British Open in the same year.
In 2003 Paul's best performance at the World Championship came when he reached the semi-finals. He lost 17-16 to Ken Doherty in one of the great Crucible matches.
That kind of determination helped him to three Masters titles in fours years and saw him move up to fourth in the world rankings.
His media profile developed swiftly and he became known as the 'Beckham of the Baize' for his glamorous image.
His impeccable sportsmanship, which he afforded all his opponents on and off the table throughout his career. In the challenging arena of snooker, he always felt privileged to be in the same room as his competitors.
He was a bright and bubbly character and you never heard him complain. He was always such a happy person. He didn’t have a pretentious bone in his body.
In defeat, a true sportsman and competitor should lose with as much honour and grace as in victory.
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Steve Davis, Willie Thorne, John Virgo & Dennis Taylor
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