AN EMOTIONAL Ali Carter admitted he was delighted to be back on the big stage after returning to action in the Champion of Champions event in Coventry just weeks after recovering from lung cancer treatment.
The 35-year-old was given a standing ovation by the Ricoh Arena crowd when he returned to the baize on Friday afternoon to face Australian Neil Robertson in their Group 4 clash.
It was always going to be a tough ask for Carter to compete against the World Number Two back in front of the TV cameras and that proved to be the case with Robertson winning the match 4-0.
But Carter, who has also overcome testicular cancer, was not worried about the result and he was just relieved to be back on the baize.
“I didn’t come here expecting to win,” Carter told the Observer. “After everything I’ve been through I was just happy to be back.
“It was always going to be difficult for me to come back and play against the top players in the world after everything I’ve been through.
“There was a point a few months ago when I thought I was never going to be able to play again.
“It was a great reception from the crowd and I really appreciate all the support. I’ve had great support from the players and World Snooker and I’m just happy that this match is out of the way.
“I would have played snooker on the street just to be back playing.
“I had a couple of chances in the match but Neil played very well and he’s a brilliant player.”
Carter was diagnosed with lung cancer back in May and has been through gruelling chemotherapy sessions and major surgery to beat his battle with the illness.
He has been overwhelmed with messages of support from fans and players alike and although Carter admits he will never forget this return, he joked it will perhaps be remembered for all the wrong reasons.
He added: “I don’t know how but I managed to leave my suit at home on the way here.
“I was playing in a pair of jeans, a borrowed tie and a waist coat that was three sizes too big for me!
“I had to wear Ricky Walden’s waistcoat for the first frame. I looked like a right state when I walked out but I think that helped take my mind off the match though and helped me settle in.”
Looking ahead Carter now has his mind firmly set on the UK Championships in York next month, his first ranking event since returning and it is a tournament which he regards as one of his favourites.
Carter added: “When I got diagnosed that was the one I was targeting.
“It was a bonus to get into this and it would have been nice to go out there and do the business but it wasn’t to be.
“I will get on the practice table, into the gym and next time I will make sure I pack my suit and it is in the car when I get home so I won’t forget it when I go to York.”
Ali Carter returned to the big stage after winning his recent battle with cancer. (s)