World Snooker Championship 2020: Martin Gould says 'lockdown saved me'

Martin Gould
Gould featured at the Crucible last year where he was beaten by Mark Williams in the first round
Betfred World Championship
Venue: Crucible Theatre, Sheffield Dates: 31 July-16 August
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Four and Red Button, with uninterrupted coverage on BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app. Full details and times.

Qualifier Martin Gould says lockdown "saved" him after he was driven into a "dark place" by abuse on social media.

Former German Masters champion Gould, 38, has dropped to number 60 in the world after struggling in recent years.

The Englishman, who has a career-high ranking of 11, faces Scotland's Stephen Maguire in the first round of the World Championship on Tuesday.

"My mind, body and soul weren't in it," said Gould. "I fell completely out of love with the game."

Gould has not progressed past the third round in the 10 events he has competed in this season, but he won his three qualifying matches - including beating former world champion Graeme Dott in the final round - to book his 10th appearance at the Crucible in Sheffield.

"My dad and my girlfriend were looking out for me because they knew there was something wrong," he said.

"I'd get to tournaments and as soon as I arrived I'd be looking at train times to see when I could go home. I just didn't want to be there.

"Lockdown basically helped me get my head back into wanting to play snooker again. It was hard but thankfully my family and friends have helped me to get back focused and ready."

Gould previously saidexternal-link he had a "retirement speech ready" because he was not expecting to stay on the tour, but progression earned him a new two-year deal.

"I was in a pretty dark place," he added. "You get a lot of stick from social media and a lot of people don't understand how we feel when we receive those kinds of messages.

"This is a game that can be really hard not just mentally, but physically. I've had lots of back and neck issues, and some days I don't even know if I'm going to get out of bed.

"They don't understand how much pressure we can be under just to pot balls."

Sign up to My Sport to follow snooker news on the BBC app.

Around the BBC iPlayer bannerAround the BBC iPlayer footer