John Henderson lifted his maiden PDC title as he helped guide Scotland to their second World Cup of Darts crown alongside Peter Wright in Jena, and ‘The Highlander’ described Sunday’s triumph as the ‘pinnacle’ of his career.
The 48-year-old – featuring in second consecutive World Cup – displayed nerves of steel by landing the winning double in Scotland’s dramatic deciding-leg pairs victories over four-time winners Netherlands, defending champions Wales and Austria in the final.
Henderson was a late replacement following the withdrawal of two-time world champion Gary Anderson, yet he rose to the occasion magnificently, to inspire his nation to a second World Cup success in three years.
“Aberdeen Premier League was the best night of my life until Sunday night,” Henderson told the PDC.
“I said I wouldn’t cry if we won it. I’ve seen it so many times on TV when players win things and I wondered why they’re crying, but now I understand that feeling.
“To win this with a great friend of mine is the pinnacle of anybody’s career. It means so much to me and I saw what it meant to Peter too, even though he won it for a second time.
“Coming into the tournament I thought we had a chance, but as the weekend went on I felt more and more confident.”
Henderson thrived in the pairs contests and also recorded a stunning victory over world No 1 Gerwyn Price in a semi-final singles rubber, defying a 103 average from ‘The Iceman’ to prevail.
However, Henderson hailed Wright’s influence as captain, revealing that ‘Snakebite’ had given him invaluable advice throughout the tournament.
“I will take so much from this weekend into my game going forward,” said Henderson. “How could I not learn from someone like Peter?
“He’s always given me advice over the years, but this weekend has just been the most incredible experience playing alongside him.
“He’s been so good to me this weekend, he’s captained me well and he’s looked after me.
“I really do believe that his captaincy is what won it for us with his decisions and leadership, particularly on the final day.”
You would struggle to find any darts fan across the globe who begrudges Henderson his big moment. The Scot is one of the most popular players on the circuit, and after ten years as a professional on the PDC circuit, he now boasts a televised title on his resume.
It’s been a difficult 18 months or so for ‘The Highlander’. Having been an ever-present in major tournaments for much of the last four years, he’s fallen to 46th on the PDC Order of Merit, and is currently outside the provisional qualification places for this year’s World Championship.
Nevertheless, he is hopeful that his World Cup success can provide him with the self-belief to reignite his career and spark a rise up the Order of Merit over the coming months.
“I’ve fallen down the rankings to 46, but I think I’m quite a bit better than that,” he added.
“It’s been a tough time for everyone over the last 18 months with the stop-start nature of competition, and I think I haven’t dealt well with that.
“But now I can look ahead to a busy back end of the year as a World Cup champion, which obviously gives me huge confidence.
“The obvious example to follow is Jonny Clayton, who has become one of the best players in the world since winning the World Cup last year.
“I’m not saying I’m going to go and win the Premier League next year, but I will be looking to keep the momentum going in the same way he has done.”
Image Credit: Kais Bodensieck/PDC Europe