A man who bought a pool table as one of his first purchases after winning the lottery has won a medal at the European championship.
Neil Jones got a place in the England team after putting in “thousands” of hours on the table, particularly during the COVID lockdowns.
The practice paid off and he bagged a bronze at the blackball championships earlier this month after captaining the B1 team.
Mr Jones, a former tiler who used to sing part-time in clubs, had just £13 in his pocket when he won £2.4m in 2010.
He didn’t make the team when he tried out in 2021, but gave it another shot and was chosen for the tournament in Malta after impressing during a home nations event.
The 59-year-old said he was “sobbing” when he found out he’d been chosen.
The Stoke-on-Trent resident played pool as a junior, but his lottery win enabled him to fine-tune his skills.
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“It allowed me to retire and practise, which I couldn’t have done while I was still working. I also couldn’t have afforded a professional-grade pool table before the win,” said Mr Jones.
“Winning the National Lottery put me on this journey and when I think back to when I won, 13 years ago, I would have never thought all this would have been possible.”
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Mr Jones paid tribute to his tournament teammates and said they played “some excellent teams before coming up just short in a tight match against Wales B1 in the semis”.
He dedicated the medal win to his late father, adding: “I just wish my dad was still here to see what we’ve done. This medal is for him.”