Phil Taylor felt legendary commentator Sid Waddell was looking out for him as he beat Michael van Gerwen in a high-quality Ladbroke World Darts Championship final to clinch his 16th world title.
’The Power’ battled back from 2-0 and 4-2 down to prevail 7-4 against the hugely talented 23-year-old, who had triumphed in their two previous meetings but came unstuck last night as his inexperience in world finals told.
The crowd chanted Waddell’s name during the final and afterwards Taylor was presented with the new trophy, which has been named for the popular commentator who died from cancer last summer.
“I’m the proudest man in the world at the moment,” said Taylor, who received a winner’s cheque for £200,000.
“There was a 180 when the crowd were singing Sid Waddell’s name and I looked up and thought he’d put that in for me.
“I’m world champion again and I’m so happy.”
He added: “Sid was like a father figure to me – he was my biggest fan, Sid was. I loved him to bits. I am absolutely over the moon. I can’t explain how I feel. It’s the biggest night of my life.”
Dutchman Van Gerwen threw a nine-dart finish on the way to beating James Wade 6-4 in his semi-final and time and again showed his class in a contest he entered as favourite for victory.
But the 52-year-old Taylor, who secured his passage to the final with a victory over Raymond van Barneveld, showed his class on the big points and won four of six sets that went to a deciding fifth leg, including two in a row to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 5-4 lead.
Taylor used all his experience to make his move at the crucial moment at 2-2 in the ninth, a 132 teeing up a double-top finish for a break, which he duly completed after Van Gerwen had choked on a 107 checkout chance.
Van Gerwen looked shaky in the next set as Taylor raced to a 2-0 lead, the Englishman eventually prevailing 3-1 to take a 6-4 lead and move to within one set of his 16th world title.
The nerves of both men told at 1-1 in the next set as they took turns to spurn easy checkouts with three darts, but when Taylor landed a double nine to move into a 2-1 lead the writing was on the wall for Van Gerwen, and Taylor duly wrapped things up on a double 16 to clinch his first title since 2010, much to the delight of the raucous London crowd.
Taylor hinted ahead of the match that he was toying with the idea of retirement, but indicated that he is ready to continue and bid for a 17th title next year.
He told Sky Sports 1: “I’m 53 next year and I’m coming back to defend a world title. It’s ridiculous really.”
Beaten finalist Van Gerwen paid tribute to the new 16-time world champion, saying: “Phil played great. It was a tough game for me. Phil was awesome.
“I want to say thanks to the crowd and everyone who helped me along.”