Norway's Kurt Maflin is hoping his Scandinavian dreams come true at the World Snooker Championship, writes Will Jennings.
Qualifier Maflin, born in Southwark but now living in Oslo, opted to represent the country after moving there almost two decades ago and has so far done the nation proud at the Crucible.
The world No.43 toppled David Gilbert, ranked 31 places ahead of him, in the first round and currently leads four-time world champion John Higgins 5-3 after Wednesday’s first session.
Maflin is now a dedicated Scandinavian citizen and, with 645 miles separating Sheffield and Oslo as the crow flies, is dreaming big in his country’s native language.
“I met my wife in Latvia 17 or 18 years ago, moved over to Norway in 2003 or 2004 and after a couple of years living there, I was able to represent Norway as a snooker player,” the 36-year-old said.
“You can’t get away with it not being an English accent like mine! It’s quite a heavy London accent - of course I’m English but I feel more Norwegian now, being out there.
“I dream in Norwegian, I count in Norwegian so that basically makes me Norwegian now, I suppose.
“I try and put my family to the back of my mind as much as I can, but on the other hand I’ve been away and I haven’t seen them for a good six, seven or eight weeks.
“My little one’s only 12 and I miss seeing him grow up and trying to form him and mould him the way I’d like him to him to turn out, which is something like his dad!
“And obviously I’m missing my wife but in a way, you have to try and put them aside - I’ve got my job, I know what I’ve got to do over here and I’m sacrificing them to try and do sometime really big.”
Maflin enjoyed an opening session to remember against 30-time ranking event winner Higgins, striking breaks of 81, 79 and 55 to seize the advantage.
And his Crucible tale is one of the more evocative ones, having only appeared at the home of snooker once in his career where he suffered 10-9 heartbreak against three-time champion Mark Selby in 2015.
With two other unseeded players - Anthony McGill and Jamie Clarke - in his quarter of the draw Maflin’s prospects of a Sheffield run look favourable, and he knows he’s got a cracking chance of going deep in the tournament if he can shock world No.5 Higgins.
“It’s definitely a big chance - if you look at the draw like that I suppose you’d think anyone out of that section has a good chance of getting to the semis,” he added.
“You’ve just got to play yourself at the end of the day - just try and keep to your game, keep focused and if you can do that, you’ve got a good chance of beating anyone.
“I’ve been around the circuit for a long time now, and I feel like I’ll cope with it pretty well.”
Live snooker returns to Eurosport and the Eurosport app. Watch the World Championship from 31st July -16th August with analysis from Jimmy White.