Tiler, 59, who bought a pool table and practised for ‘thousands of hours’ during lockdown following £2.4million lottery win will represent England at European Pool Championships
- Neil Jones, 59, won £2.4million before Christmas in 2010
- The first thing he bought was a pool table and practised for hours on end
- Now he’s set to represent England at the European Pool Championships in Malta
A tiler who purchased a pool table after winning a staggering £2.4million on the National Lottery is set to represent England at the European Pool Championships in Malta next month.
Neil Jones, 59, had just £13 in his pocket when he and partner Julie Kirkham won the life-changing cash before Christmas in 2010.
The couple from Stoke-on-Trent, England, decided to start a ‘new life’ the following year on January 1 but it took 18 months for the for the news to sink in.
The win meant Mr Jones could retire early and spent all his spare time playing the game. He honed in on perfecting his skills throughout Covid lockdowns when pubs were shut and spent ‘thousands of hours’ training.
He slowly climbed the ranks to become a regular county player before his first England trial back in 2021.
He said: ‘Winning the lottery allowed me to put those hours in. If I didn’t win, I wouldn’t have been able to buy the table, I wouldn’t have had the time – I’d still be on my hands and knees tiling.’
Now he’s been chosen to represent his country in November and has even been asked to captain the England B1 team.
Neil Jones (pictured), from Stoke-on-Trent, had just £13 in his pocket when he won £2.4million on the National Lottery. The first thing the 59-year-old tiler bought was a pool table
Now he’s set to represent England in the European Pool Championships in Malta
Mr Jones decided to buy the table shortly after visiting a pool hall with a friend.
‘I picked a cue up, had a knock, and then I came back home and measured up our dining room so I could buy a decent pool table,’ he said.
‘I was getting better, and as you get better, you can’t be practising on something that isn’t very good.’
He narrowly missed out on the 2021 England trials but continued training until he was asked to trail again in 2023.
This time he was successful and was awarded his England colours during a Home Nations tournament.
While he’s supported by his wife and family, Mr Jones, who plays at The Plaza club in Fenton, says he wishes his late father was here to see his success.
Mr Jones honed in on his skills during lockdown and spent ‘thousands of hours’ training. He narrowly missed out on the 2021 England trials but kept practising until he was asked to trail again in 2023. This time he was successful and will fly to Malta in November
Mr Jones also recalled the moment he won the life-changing lottery and didn’t believe it at first.
‘There were no words. I was checking the ticket for 45minutes. It was all on Ceefax back then. Julie rang Camelot and they said, “Are you sitting down? You’re the only winner and it’s £2.4 million”,’ he recalled.
‘It took about 18 months to sink in. It was absolutely amazing, fantastic. It’s a cushion – when a bill comes through the door, you know you can pay it.’
But Mr Jones said his millionaire status has not changed the way his friends at the pool club see him, saying they respect him for his talents, not his money.
He added: ‘It’s a completely different life, but anyone who knows me knows I’m grounded. Down the pool club, it’s not a big deal, no one mentions it.
‘It’s about what you can achieve, because money can’t buy you an England place.
‘I respect money – if you’ve never grafted for money I think it can slip through your fingers, but we’ve never been those kind of people, we’ve always worked.’
Mr Jones said it took 18 months for the lottery win to ‘sink in’. He said: ‘There were no words. I was checking the ticket for 45minutes. It was all on Ceefax back then. Julie rang Camelot and they said, “are you sitting down? You’re the only winner and it’s £2.4 million”‘
Mr Jones is now looking forward to jetting out to Malta and says he wants to ‘do the country proud’.
He said: ‘Playing for my country is one of the proudest moments. This game can be so unforgiving.
‘You will have a spell where it just hates you and you feel like you’ve never picked a cue up in your life, but you have to play through those times.
‘If it wasn’t for my National Lottery win, I wouldn’t be telling this story. I didn’t have that much money left in the world when I won, and now I’m captaining my country.’
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