LONDON: Belgium’s Luca Brecel became the first player from mainland Europe to win the snooker world title as he completed a fairytale fortnight by resisting a Mark Selby fightback to triumph 18-15 at The Crucible on Monday night. The 28-year-old, who had lost in the first round of his previous five appearances at the championships, led 16-10 in the best of 35-frame final but four-time champion Selby rattled off five frames in a row to test Brecel’s nerve. He proved up to the task though as he took the next two frames to clinch the title — ending in style with a century to become the first overseas winner since Australian Neil Robertson in 2010. Brecel enjoyed a 9-8 overnight lead after Saturday’s two sessions, but won the opening four frames on Sunday with three centuries to seize command. Trailing 13-8, Selby dug in and took the next two frames but Brecel then compiled another century before snatching a tense last frame of the afternoon session to take a 15-10 lead into the evening climax. Displaying no nerves on the biggest night of his career, the ‘cool as a cucumber’ Brecel returned to the table to move 16-10 ahead before Selby edged two successive scrappy frames, then found his potting rhythm to close to within two. Selby looked on a roll but fearless Brecel would not be denied the title which lifts him second in the world rankings. “So tough, he’s the worst opponent to have in a final, he just keeps coming back, he’s such a fighter, when it was 16-15 I didn’t fancy winning at all,” Brecel told the BBC after receiving the trophy and a £500,000 ($625,000) cheque. “Snooker is going to explode in Europe now. I wanted it to happen for Belgium and Europe and now I can’t wait to see what it brings, I’m so happy I did it.” Brecel, who admitted he prepared for the tournament with several late nights out on the town, captured the imagination of the Sheffield crowd with two weeks of stunning potting. In the quarter-final he caused a major shock when he won the last seven frames to knock out defending champion and seven-times winner Ronnie O’Sullivan. After that win he said he had celebrated beating another former champion, Mark Williams, in the previous round by getting as ‘drunk as hell’. Brecel’s rollercoaster ride continued in the semi-final against China’s Si Jiahui when he pulled off the greatest comeback ever seen at the tournament, winning 12 consecutive frames as he it back from 14-5 behind to win 17-15. Selby, nicknamed the Jester from Leicester, was expected to end Brecel’s dream run but was always playing catch-up after sliding 5-1 behind against the inspired Belgian. While Brecel celebrated becoming Belgium’s latest and most unlikely sporting hero, Selby, 39, had the consolation of making the first 147 break ever in the final of the world championship, his maximum coming during a storming fightback on Saturday.