By Hector Nunns

An emotional Jimmy Robertson claimed a first ranking title on Sunday night in Belgium – a day he feared might never come.

The 32-year-old from Bexhill in Sussex beat veteran Joe Perry 9-6 to win the European Masters in Lommel and pocket the £75,000 first prize.

As with semi-final victim Mark King, Robertson, who owns and runs O’Sullivan’s snooker club in his home town, had shared a Center Parcs chalet with Perry earlier in the week.

Robertson, who now rises to a career-high No26, has been seen as a talented player with unfulfilled potential – and is on his third crack at the tour after falling off in in 2003 and again in 2008.

The Sussex No1 sought help from sports psychologist Martin Perry last year having had problems in big matches on TV and against the elite players.

And those brave and determined efforts have yielded a huge reward that Robertson feared might never come. He also bags a place in next month’s lucrative Champion of Champions event.

Before this tournament he had never even got past the quarter-final stage in a ranking event but three wins on the final black signalled his luck could be changing.

And helped also by some big-name absentees In Belgium along with early exits for the likes of world No1 Mark Selby and Judd Trump, he made this chance count.

A tearful Robertson, able to celebrate in the arena with partner Hayley, son Frankie and daughter Poppy, said: “It means everything, it is everything I have dreamed of since I was a little boy.

“I am so happy to win my first title, to be honest I wasn’t sure this would ever happen. My season has been poor, and my career…I have had wins but not gone deep in tournaments.

“This has come out of the blue a bit, but somewhere in me I believed I had this in me even though I hadn’t produced it.”

When Robertson, a fast and heavy scorer, raced into a 5-0 lead in the afternoon it looked like there would be an early finish for the Lommel crowd.

He rattled in breaks of 65, 75 and 64 against Perry who looked totally out of sorts and managed a high-break of just 28 in those five frames.

But without really firing Perry dug deep to close the gap to 5-3 – and just two behind at the interval.

After taking the next Robertson stole what looked a crucial 10th frame for 7-3 with a break of 75 after trailing to Perry’s 56.

But his highest break of the contest seemed to inspire Perry and, finally off the leash, he pounded Robertson with breaks of 106, 59, 60 and 100 to close to 7-6 down.

A rattled Robertson hadn’t potted a ball for three frames, but Perry missed a chance to level in the next missing a red with the rest – and the Bexhill star impressively closed out the match with a century.