A bloke who won a whopping £2.4million on the National Lottery and bought a pool table has bagged bronze medal in the sport for England at the European Championships
Neil Jones, a 59-year-old former tiler, had just £13 to his name when he and his partner Julie Kirkham won £2.4million in a National Lottery draw in 2010. After winning the lottery, Neil's first purchase was a pool table, as he used to play snooker as a youngster.
With more free time after retiring, and a Covid lockdown to boot, he sharpened his skills at home. He became a county player before his first England trial in 2021. After narrowly missing out, he was asked to try again this year.
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He succeeded and was awarded his England colours during a Home Nations tournament. Now, after "thousands of hours" of practice, Neil was asked to captain England's B1 team, and faced other home nation sides, as well as teams from France, Spain, Belgium, Ireland and Gibraltar.
Neil's team advanced through the knockout stages to the quarter-finals, where they narrowly beat Wales B 13-12. In a tense semi-final, they faced an experienced Wales B1 side and lost 13-11 but still walked away with bronze medals.
Neil said: "It was the first time I had experienced the honour of pulling on an England shirt at a major championships and, to add to that, I had the privilege to be captaining my country. I was very nervous but the team pulled together and, after finding our form we beat some excellent teams before coming up just short in a tight match against Wales B1 in the semis."
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"At the time of the semi-final loss we were all gutted but, upon reflection, if you'd have offered us a podium place when we left home we'd have jumped at it. It was the most amazing journey and I can't believe that we won a medal. I am so proud. I just wish my dad was still here to see what we've done. This medal is for him."
Scotland B went on to beat Wales B1 in the final and were crowned European Champions.
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