Neil Jones, who won £2.4m on the National Lottery in 2010, skippered the England pool team in the European Championships after becoming hooked on the sport following his big win
The first Lotto winner to ever captain his country in a sporting tournament has returned home with a bronze medal.
Neil Jones, who won £2.4m on the National Lottery, skippered the England pool team in the European Championships. The 59-year-old, from Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs, became hooked on the sport following his big win in 2010.
He was a talented snooker player in his teens but had never played pool before landing the life-changing jackpot. Neil picked up a cue while searching for a new hobby after retiring as a self-employed tiler following the Lotto win.
He honed his skills at a club near his home and had a pool table installed in his luxury home. Neil played for hours every day during the Covid-19 lockdown and became so good he attracted the attention of England selectors.
He was selected as captain for the Three Lions B team in the European Championships in Malta last month and bagged a bronze medal. His team narrowly lost their semi-final to Wales B.
Neil said: “It was the first time I had experienced the honour of pulling on an England shirt at a major championship. And, to add to that, I had the privilege to be captaining my country. I was very nervous but the team pulled together.
“It was the most amazing journey and I can’t believe that we won a medal. I am so proud.” He was down to his last £13 when he bought a ticket at his local Bargain Booze store in 2010. Neil and partner Julie Kirkham swapped their terraced house for a home in an exclusive area of Staffordshire.
“Winning the National Lottery doesn’t just mean fast cars and luxury foreign holidays,” he said. “For many normal, working-class people like me it means the opportunity to pursue your passions and your dreams, especially if you are lucky enough to finish work due to your new-found wealth.
“The win allowed me to retire, buy a pool table and practice, which I couldn’t have done while I was still working. I couldn’t have afforded a pool table before and do all the things I’ve been so lucky to do. I am living the dream. If it wasn’t for my National Lottery win I’d still be on my hands and knees tiling someone’s bathroom.”