Lilley earned a place on the World Snooker Tour for the first time at the age of 43, thanks to a 4-0 win over Sean Maddocks in the final round of 2019 Q School event one.
A familiar face on the amateur circuit for many years, Lilley has had success in pro tournaments while competing as a ‘top-up’, notably reaching the quarter-finals of the 2016 Indian Open and the last 32 of two ranking events during the 2018-19 season.
He previously worked in the insurance industry, but in 2018 took the decision to quit his long-term job in order to commit himself to snooker.
“I’m feeling shocked and overwhelmed because I have been playing for 30 years,” said Lilley after making it through Q School. “Since I gave up my job last September, from a financial point of view my family have had to tighten our belts. But it has given me the chance to practise regularly which has made a huge difference.
“Last season I played in a lot of events as a top-up which gave me good experience and exposure to the tour. Losing to the top players gives you the mental hardness that you need. I got a new cue two weeks ago and that has also made a big difference. To turn pro is what I wanted, I have achieved it now and I’m so happy!
“This is where the hard work starts. The tour is a lot tougher than the amateur circuit. I want to play well and hopefully that will lead to success. I have ambitions of winning tournaments, as everyone does, but it is so hard. I am going to enjoy it and give it everything for two years.”