Over the past year, Judd Trump has made the transition from a player with great potential, to a proven winner of the biggest titles.
In 2019 he won the Masters, the World Grand Prix, the World Championship, the International Championship, the World Open and the Northern Ireland Open, while opening up a clear lead at the top of the world rankings.
Previously, Trump had been subject to criticism from certain quarters, questioning whether he would ever fulfil his talent. His Triple Crown resumè had become characterised by near misses. Though he won the UK Championship in 2011, he lost the World Championship final that year against John Higgins, and later succumbed to semi-final defeats at the Crucible in 2013 and 2015, as well as bowing out in the last four of the Masters in 2012, 2016 and 2018.
But now the 30-year-old Bristolian has silenced the doubters, particularly with his display in the world final as he crushed Higgins 18-9 with arguably the greatest performance in Crucible history.
How has Trump made such a significant improvement? We asked three of the people closest to him…
Django Fung – Trump’s manager
“I am extremely proud. I have known Judd since he was 19 so we have been together over ten years now. When he first came to me I had seen him play in a couple of tournaments. He came to my academy and spent a couple of hours there. He just said straight away that his car was full of stuff and that he was ready to stay here. Judd has not only developed to become the best player in the world, but he has also developed to become a really nice person and individual. He is a really successful young man. That is what I am most proud of.
Trump flanked by brother Jack and manager Django
“It is really important for me to try and understand what kind of character Judd is and try to work with him. A lot of people said he was the most talented player without winning a world title. Maybe another Jimmy White. So we had a lot of pressure. All because he is so talented. He is unique. It was about helping him to develop and helping him to manage that pressure. A lot of people started asking questions. If you look at his record he has almost won a title every year since 2011. He has been very consistent. A lot of people say he isn’t but he has been.
“There was a huge danger that criticisms and external things could have got into his head. Judd is a strong character, but we are all human. I have seen him when he was high and seen him when he was low. Social media comparing him to other players. What he can do, what he can’t do, not being a fighter. In reality he is nothing other than a proper champion. For him to keep his head down and keep doing his thing and keep working on his weaknesses has been so impressive. That is what we have been doing. It is all about gradual improvement.
“A significant thing in his improvement has been the laser eye surgery he had a couple of years ago. It took me three years to convince him to get it done. I just said to go for a consultation and let the surgeon make the decision for you. Eventually he went for it and he’s won five or six titles since. These are the things I try to help out on. I believe that the eye surgery has actually made him 20 or 30 per cent better. Not only can he play longer. He can practise longer.”
Jack Trump – Judd’s brother who he now employs full-time to travel on the tour with him and help with practice
“It has been amazing to experience all of this with him. I always wished I could give a helping hand to him when I was back in Bristol. There were a few little things that I felt I could help with. I can pick up on small things when he is at the table in terms of how he is feeling that nobody other than maybe my Dad can see. I feel like it has made a big difference and that is great to know.
“I felt a bit of pressure in the first few tournaments after I had started helping him last season. I wanted it to be a success. But when he got that first win at the Northern Ireland Open it really took the pressure off for the whole season. He went from strength to strength after that and just kept on winning.
“What I say to him in a mid-session interval totally depends on what is happening and how a match is going. I just adjust to every situation and go from there. I was getting goose bumps every minute at the Crucible during that world final with John Higgins. He played some incredible snooker. Judd never fails to surprise me with some of the shots he can come up with. I see him every day, but he just always produces the magic when he needs to and he certainly did that in Sheffield.
“I’m getting used to the travelling side of things. It is hard to adjust. I try to get out there a bit and see places but when you are at tournaments it is all quite intense and there isn’t really that much time. If I do get a bit of time I tend to just go out on my own and see a bit of the world. We get to go to some really nice places so it is good to get to see a bit of them.”
Matthew Selt – Indian Open champion and practice partner
“The best I have ever seen Judd play in practice was a couple of years ago before the World Championship. I was with him for a few weeks and I was watching him play snooker that I had never seen before. That includes the likes of O’Sullivan, Higgins and Selby. It was just on a different planet. However, he went on to lose in the opening round at the Crucible against Rory McLeod.
“As the years went on, whether I had the right to question if he would win anything is up to other people, but I didn’t think he was going to win the World Championship. He has been a special player for several years, but apart from losing to Higgins in that 2011 final he has never really got close. Forget what I think though. Deep down he would have been questioning himself as well. To play like that, 200 days a year in practice and then never really be able to do it at the Crucible, he must have been wondering what was going on.
“After all of that, to see him produce his best in the World Championship final this year was amazing. I don’t care who you are talking about, nobody has ever put in a performance like that at the Crucible. It hasn’t come about by chance. He has made a few good decisions, including having his brother come with him, and that has made the difference. He gets a lot of criticism from people who don’t really understand what he does and how he lives his life. At the end of the day, he puts a lot of work in on the table. You don’t get to where he has got to by being a playboy and spending loads of money. He is very good at both of them as well, but the snooker aspect of it is that he works hard and he is a very special talent.
“Everybody knows how good he is. Everybody knows what a talent he is. I don’t think they realised quite how good though. To have a technique like his, which he will openly admit isn’t pristine compared to the likes of Neil Robertson, Shaun Murphy and Ding Junhui. He has a very unique way of playing. Under pressure that can come unstuck every now and then. As far as snooker ability and playing goes I have seen him play stuff that even Ronnie can’t. To see him start producing it over the last 18 months is good, as a friend as well as a colleague. I genuinely believe that when Judd plays his A game and Ronnie plays his A game, Judd wins.”