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World of Sport

03rd Jan 2024

“I’ve had a message off Luke Shaw from Manchester United. Rio Ferdinand as well. It’s unbelievable.”

Niall McIntyre

Luke Littler is through to the World Darts Championship final after defeating Rob Cross 6-2.

The 16-year-old is remarkably now just one game away from collecting the Sid Waddell trophy, with World Number One Luke Humphries standing in his way in Wednesday night’s final.

The teen sensation has taken the tournament by storm since his first round win over Christian Kist and he maintained his breath-taking form in Tuesday’s semi-final, beating former champ Cross with a 106.05 average.

Cross himself shot a respectable average of 103 but despite taking the first set – he also had darts to win the second – Littler dug in and eventually stretched clear of his opponent with a string of 180s and tonne-plus finishes.

Coming into the tournament, Littler says his aim was to just win one game but now he has won six on the bounce. Manchester United players have reached out to him, he has the eyes of the world on his back but he says that his routine remains the same.

“I just stay focused and relaxed,” said Littler after the game.

“I just have to be Luke Littler. Today was first to six sets, tomorrow is first to seven.”

“It’s so crazy to think I’m in a World Championship final on my debut. I was happy to win one game but I could nearly go all the way.”

When Cross won the first set, it was the first time in this tournament that Littler had fallen behind but he says there was no panic.

“I’ve settled on that stage,” he said.

“It takes me a few legs to settle into a game but once I find my rhythm, I’m good to go.

“I just pointed to my family and friends and said it’s only one set. Rob missed 86 to go 2-0 up, maybe that would have changed things, but I dug deep to win that set.”

Cross raised his opponent’s hand after the game, to the acclaim of the Alexandra Palace crowd and Littler says that he wished him all the best in the final.

“Rob just said, ‘God bless, I respect you, now go and do it.'”

The teenager says that, ahead of the final, his routine will remain the same. Stay in bed until 12, enjoy a ham and cheese omelette in the morning before hitting the practice board. And it’s the practice, he says, that has made him the player he is.

“I wasn’t great at Maths,” he laughs.

“But when you practice that much, you get used to what to go for and what to set up.”

“I’ll just do what I’ve been doing. Go and have a ham and cheese omelette in the morning. Come in here, have my pizza and then I’m on the board. That’s what I’ve done every day so far.”

“I’ve had a message off Luke Shaw from Manchester United. Rio Ferdinand as well.

“I had Gary Neville and Jonny Evans onto me as well before my game against Barney. They’re people I’ve looked up to, people from my club, Manchester United, and they’re wishing me luck.

“It’s unbelievable,” he adds.

It surely is.

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