Mosconi Cup legend Darren Appleton expects pool explosion as the sport comes back off its knees

Planet Sport caught up with Darren Appleton at the last Mosconi Cup to talk about the current state of pool, his next career ambition and why the USA vs Europe showdown is so unique.

Controversy, late changes, golden breaks, a capacity crowd - it's fair to say that the 2021 Mosconi Cup delivered in a big way. Team Europe may have come away victorious, but the real winner was pool as the sport was thrust back into the limelight following a dramatic 28th edition of the annual event.

One man who had the best view of all the action was seven-time winner, Darren Appleton.

The 45-year-old was not involved in this year's event and watched the drama unfold while sitting with the fans. We caught up with the pool legend and asked him for his thoughts on the state of the game.

Appleton said: "If you look back 12 months ago, pool was on its knees a little bit. But Matchroom - they're now adding more tournaments like the UK Open, I think next year they have eight or nine tournaments - their goal is to have it like snooker or darts.

"If I was telling a young kid coming into the game now, I would tell him that it's a good time to come into the game. If you asked me three or four years ago, I would say try and take up golf or tennis.

"Pool is on the up. Because it's so international, it's very marketable, it's easy on the eye because its quick. I think you will see a big explosion in pool, and I think it's going to get to the level of snooker and darts."

Appleton himself is back playing pool and hopes to capitalise on what could be a big year for the sport in 2022.

He said: "I'm back playing full time. Recently we nearly won the World Cup of Pool. We were lucky to get in through the back door at the last minute. I also won a tournament at the GB Nines.

"My game's there but now I just need a good run of tournaments. Next year we finally have a good schedule, where obviously with COVID it has been crazy.

"With pool it's very international so we've been affected more than the likes of snooker and darts. None of the Asian players can travel, it's been hard work to travel anyway. In the UK we were in lockdown for more or less 12 months.

"The good thing next year we'll have a full schedule. Back playing full time so obviously my goal is to get back in the [Mosconi Cup] team."

Speaking of the Mosconi Cup, Appleton admitted that the event remains as one of the best ones to be involved in.

He said: "It's unique. It's the one time it grabs the public's imagination. People come who aren't really pool fans or hardcore pool players. We get a great mixture of people coming to watch the Mosconi Cup. And even if you're not a big fan of pool, how can you not be a fan of this atmosphere.

"It's a bit like that darts, it's a carnival atmosphere, it's unique. It's got its own history, over 27 years, it's just grown and grown. Even though it's not the biggest thing to win on a personal level, it's the best thing to be involved in. It's unique, it's the one event we all want to play in."

One aspect of the event which makes it so special is the fanfare-like atmosphere. When asked whether the rowdy nature of the Mosconi Cup crosses a line, Appleton dismissed that suggestion saying: "You prepare for it before you come. You know it's going to happen. You know there's going to be craziness - crazy shouting out while you're down for the shot.

"You prepare for it mentally before it starts. If you're playing well, you don't hear the crowd. But if you're struggling, even a little bit, then you hear everything. Then it's so easy for it to affect you because you're struggling, mentally not feeling great, and the crowd build the shot up for you.

"When you're struggling it's the worst place in the world to be. But when you're playing well, like Jayson Shaw at this Mosconi Cup, it's the best place in the world to be. It's like a fine line. It's either going to be amazing or a disaster.

"As you can see, this year for the Americans it has turned into a nightmare. It can happen to you very easily, even the best players in the world like Shane Van Boening or Jayson Shaw. You're always treading on a fine line. It's a unique event."

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