A week ago Gerwyn Price would have swapped all his darts success for one Wales rugby cap… but that was then.
Price, 35, only earned his tour card in 2014 after swapping mauls for the oche.
“A month ago I would have given up everything I have achieved in darts for one Wales rugby cap, but now I am changing my mind,” he said.
Price, who earned a £500,000 winner’s cheque, became the first player from qualifying school to be crowned world champion and world number one, as well as the first Welshman to win the PDC World title.
It is all a far cry from Price’s start in the sport, playing in a pub league at Markham Rugby Club, combining his hobby with a rugby union career that saw him shine in the Welsh Premiership for Cross Keys then Neath.
The move to Neath kept Price from the radar of the then Newport Gwent Dragons and while Price did play a handful of Pro12 games for Glasgow Warriors, the ceiling for his talents at rugby ultimately proved lower than it has been for darts.
He gave up his rugby dream and switched to darts “to make a bit of money”. Now he is looking to make history.
‘I think I’ve changed my mind now’
Price told the BBC Scrum V podcast he had regrets about how his rugby career finished and that he would swap success in darts for another shot at rugby, but that was then – and now he is world champion.
“Hopefully I’ve inspired a lot of youngsters and I would love it if Welsh people looked at me and thought they’d give Q (qualifying) School a crack,” he told BBC Sport Wales.
“To only get my tour card in 2014 at Q School and then to be here seven years later, having won the world title and knocked Michael van Gerwen off the world number one spot, which he’s had for seven years.
“And I bet Michael never thought when I got my tour card it would be me who knocked him off that top spot.
“After winning the trophy, knowing what it means to everyone – my family, my fans – I don’t think I’d give it up now for one cap for Wales.
“A couple of months ago I said I would give it all up for a Wales cap, but I think I am changing my mind.”
‘I don’t know what would have happened’
Nicknamed ‘The Iceman’, he had won eight tournaments in 2020, but none of that winning experience helped him when he needed just one more leg to claim a world title.
Price’s number of missed darts for the title got into double digits and he admits the pressure he felt was almost overwhelming in a final he dominated.
His control was underlined by a record sixth set where Price averaged an astonishing 136.6, the highest in championship history.
“I never make it easy for myself or my fans! I am just grateful I had such a big cushion, otherwise if it was a bit closer, I don’t think I would have got over that winning line,” Price admitted.
“Having said that, that extra pressure – I knew I had more opportunities, but if it had been closer, I don’t know what would have happened.
“I knew I had to take this opportunity and that I might not ever have another chance.
“Being a world champion sounds really good but it hasn’t sunk in yet, I think you will need to give me a few months.
“I know I am world number one now and it feels good.”
‘Hopefully I will get booed less’
Price has often been perceived as a pantomime villain in his darts career.
He was fined £21,500 and given a suspended three-month ban for his behaviour at the 2018 Grand Slam of Darts after he clashed with Anderson in an ill-tempered final.
The Darts Regulation Authority said Price’s behaviour “drew an unprecedented number of complaints from members of the public”.
However, Price is now hoping to swap boos for cheers, or at least hear fewer jeers, when fans are allowed to attend darts events again.
He has also enjoyed seeing more positive messages, with lots of fans of the sport sending him congratulations.
“I see the nice messages on social media as my wife runs my account and passes them onto me,” Price said.
“You know I’m like Marmite, they’ll either love me or hate me. Majority of them hate me I think but I don’t mind.
“It would be nice if winning the world title changes things, but (I think) I will still have boos, pantomime boos, and I don’t expect that to stop, I just hope it is not as bad as it was before.
“I don’t mind boos. I get it worse than anyone else, I don’t mind it, but just ease off a little bit please.”