Shaquille O’Neal and Toni Kroos acknowledge Michael Smith’s victory !
Full details about Shaquille O’Neal and Toni Kroos acknowledge Michael Smith’s victory
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Champion Michael Smith admits he’s still riding the crest of the wave after his victory at Alexandra Palace last week – a success that has resonated across the sporting world.
St Helen’s sergeant fulfilled his destiny with his famous 7-4 victory over Michael van Gerwen on January 3, which saw him become world champion and world number one for the first time in his career.
Smith also produced an astonishing nine-dart finish during the second set – in a leg dubbed the greatest of all time – after Van Gerwen missed double 12 for nine in the same leg.
His success made global headlines, with NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal among those who took inspiration from the world champion, by showcasing his powerful prowess on the primetime American sports show, “Inside The NBA”.
Smith also appeared as a guest on the television talk show The MMA Hour, hosted by renowned MMA journalist Ariel Helwani, to discuss his history-making exploits.
“It’s a dream come true, it’s what we’re all striving for,” Smith admitted, speaking on Monday’s episode of MMA Hour.
“I’ve always wanted to be world champion and I’ve always wanted to be world number one, and what better way to do that than on the same night?
“Yesterday morning, I received a message from (Real Madrid player) Toni Kroos saying: ‘Well done, can you answer some questions on my podcast? ”
“Toni Kroos is probably one of the best midfielders in the history of football. He won the World Cup and I don’t know how many Champions League titles. I was just a star.
“People I looked up to and followed on social media are now following me and sending me messages of congratulations.
“I still don’t quite realize what I did, but it’s starting to sink in now.”
Smith produced a stunning display to deny the seemingly irrepressible Van Gerwen at Alexandra Palace, averaging 100.87, landing 22 maximums and converting 47% of his tries into the double to seal the victory.
However, his nine-dart slam dunk will go down in sporting history as Wayne Mardle lost his voice in the Sky Sports commentary box in iconic scenes that went viral on social media.
Mardle called out the nine alongside Stuart Pike – and their enthusiasm was met by a trio of Italian commentators on DAZN, who erupted with delight when Smith achieved perfection.
Smith admits he hasn’t stopped pursuing his nine since he lifted the coveted Sid Waddell trophy, and hopes his victory will provide the catalyst for an explosion of darts around the world.
Wayne’s comment made that moment even more special. “That leg would never get hit,” Smith, who lifted the US Darts Masters title at Madison Square Garden last June, admitted.
“You’ve seen the Italian commentary, the Hungarian commentary. There are so many things, and you’ve seen them all.
“It just makes it special to see people’s feelings. I know it’s my job, but putting smiles on people’s faces is even better.
“I think this is the most watched final we’ve had, and that can make the game even better.
“You can see how big it is in Europe, and hopefully we can make it huge in the US now.”
It has been a whirlwind week for Smith in the aftermath, who has seen an unprecedented demand for interviews and media appearances since securing the £500,000 top prize in the capital.
He received a hero’s welcome when he returned to his hometown of St Helens last week, and road signs in town were changed to a message welcoming Smith home.
The 32-year-old also visited his beloved Saints last Thursday, displaying the Syd Waddell Cup on the pitch along with the club’s Premier League titles, League Leaders’ Shield and Women’s Premier League.
“As a kid growing up, this was where I went to watch my heroes play,” admitted Smith, who also saw his cousin, Paige Travis, represent St Helens and England Women this year.
“To finally get out there as a world champion and stand up with some of the greats I’ve seen — that was amazing.
“I still go there now with my kids when I have time off, so to be on the pitch with my trophy as well as my St Helens trophies, it was another dream come true.”