Neal Foulds is recognised nowadays as a pundit for Eurosport, ITV and previously at the BBC but it wasn’t that long ago that he was an accomplished professional player. Reaching a high of number 3 in the World rankings he attained 6 major titles including the 1986 International Open, the 1988 Dubai Masters and the 1992 Scottish Masters as well as the invitational event, Pot Black in 1992. He was also runner up in the UK Championship in 1986, the British Open in 1987 and reached the semi finals of the Masters and World Championship on three occasions.
Neal, the son of Geoff Foulds a former professional first started playing snooker aged 11 and by the start of the 1980’s was a formidable player. His first big win was in the National under 19’s Championship where he beat John Parrott and subsequently turned professional on the the back of this title in 1983. Impressive seemed to Foulds’s middle name because by the end of the season he had qualified for the World Championship at his first attempt and dug deep into the tournament, beating Alex Higgins 10-9 in the first round before getting defeated by Doug Mountjoy in the last 16, 13-9. However this terrific run saw his ranking place rose to 30.
It wasn’t long before Neal was soaring up the rankings and reached number 3. With multiple titles under his belt and fantastic runs in the majors, it looked like Fouldsy was becoming the new poster boy of snooker but his ranking started to slip and it wasn’t long before he was struggling to remain in top 16. However, he did cling on and wasn’t until the 1993/4 season that he finally dropped out of the 16. Neal continued playing until 2003 retiring aged 39 from competitive play by which time he had made 86 competitive centuries.
Foulds briefly returned to the sport in 2011 when he entered the Sky Sports run Seniors event at the time. However, Neal freely admitted that his game was poor, largely due to his eyesight and the fact that he hadn’t picked up a cue for years. He eventually lost to the former professional from New Zealand, Dene O’Kane.
Since retiring Neal has established himself as a knowledgeable commentator and pundit. When he speaks, his voice resonates with the true love of the sport and his analytical mind is perfect for televised event as he gets into the player’s mindset, extracts the information and returns the proceedings and his interpretation of the match to the viewing audience. I have always found Neal approachable and he widely uses Twitter to promote his views on current and past events in snooker. Being a former player he can appreciate what a player goes through to achieve a winning frame and to raise a trophy. His Eurosport work is also very encouraging as he uses statistics, analysis of number crunching and a computerised flatscreen to investigate shots, using the white lines to show the audience the desired angle of the proposed shot and what he would do if he was in the player’s shoes. Fouldsy is a true legend and it’s lovely to know the man. He is the only person I have seen in a commentary box, tuck into a takeaway meal and then commentate, impressive!
Article written by Elliott West
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