Judd Trump’s exhilarating run in Sheffield ended in defeat at the hands of a Crucible master as Higgins prevailed 18-15.
Higgins broke down in tears at mention of his late father, the man who guided his career and died in February, but savoured his victory.
He said: “It’s been great. It’s an unbelievable moment.”
Trump said: “John was the better player on the day,” although Higgins immediately contradicted him. “We’ve got a new sensation in the game,” he said.
At one stage Trump, the sensation of the tournament if not its champion, led 12-9. However, as he attempted to stretch four frames clear the 21-year-old missed a difficult blue, and that proved a turning point.
Fearless potting had served Trump well through the rounds, yet last night the potting was his downfall, with the qualifier from Bristol taking on too much, missing too often and leaving chances for Higgins.
A year to the day ago, Higgins was the subject of frame-fixing allegations which overshadowed the final. He was charged by the snooker authorities, but battled to clear his name and largely succeeded. The fixing charges were dropped and a six-month ban for minor offences around betting kept him sidelined only until November.
A triumph at the UK Championship in December was followed by the Welsh Open in February, just days after the death of his father, John snr.
Higgins dearly wanted to win the world title for his father, and after his semi-final win over Mark Williams he pointed to the heavens to show what reaching another final meant.
Having played poorly on Sunday and finished just 10-7 behind, the Scot produced a performance befitting his status yesterday.
Only Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and Ray Reardon have won more world titles in the modern era than Higgins, who goes one ahead of his quarter-final victim Ronnie O’Sullivan after adding to his 1998, 2007 and 2009 successes.