ROB CROSS admits that his dream William Hill World Darts Championship triumph has yet to sink in, as the dust settles on his incredible rags-to-riches story.
The 27-year-old from Hastings has enjoyed an unprecedented year since turning professional, with four ranking event wins and a run to the Unibet European Championship final being followed by his Alexandra Palace glory.
Not only did Cross win the World Championship in his first attempt, but the former electrician averaged over 107 as he romped to a 7-2 win over Phil Taylor in a remarkable success against the retiring 16-time World Champion.
"It's a weird feeling," admitted Cross. "I'm going to need a few days to get used to it, and I've still probably got the emotion to come out.
"I managed to find my best performance on TV when I really needed it, which was great, but Phil is a living legend and it was his curtain coming down.
"He's been my hero growing up, how ruthless he was to people and I wanted to come out and do a similar thing.
"I clapped him on, it was amazing and it was one of those things that you wanted to get involved in but you knew you couldn't. All of a sudden, if I get involved in that and don't start as well and am under pressure, it's a totally different game.
"I had to stay focused, do the job and carry it on."
Cross has jumped to third on the PDC Order of Merit after winning over £600,000 in prize money in his first year as a full-time professional, but insists that he will not rest on his laurels.
"I still feel I'm improving," added Cross. "I'm definitely not finished yet, there's a few aspects there that I want to change and still think I can do better and I think it will make me a better player overall.
"At the minute it's coming. I'm enjoying it on the stage, I love the game and I love playing it now and there's no fear any more. I believe I can beat anyone and I can win anything now.
"Winning the World Championship is great - it's the one that everyone wants and at the moment I've got it, which is amazing. At the same time there are still other goals and bigger pictures.
"I want to be world number one, so that means I'm going to have to win nearly every single other won and build myself a portfolio, that's the next ambition."
Cross will make his Unibet Premier League debut in February as one of four debutants in the event, which begins in Dublin and takes in huge nights in Berlin and Rotterdam this year.
"I think the Premier League is going to be a bit of an eye-opener," said Cross. "I think it will help me, I really do, with the consistency of the weeks on TV.
"I'll enjoy it and hopefully I bring my best game with me, which I will. It could be a bit of a struggle at times but it's the same for us all and you've got to handle it better than your opponent.
"It's going to be different and it is going to be a test, but I think I'll deal with it, I think I'll do alright and the ambition is to win it."
Father-of-three Cross was joined on stage by son Leyton as he celebrated his victory at Alexandra Palace, and the new World Champion paid tribute to the support of wife Georgia and his family.
"Before the World Championship, darts changed my life and now all of a sudden I'm World Champion and it's changed it even more,"
"It's amazing and without them I don't think this was possible, just the drive and the motivation they give me and the support they give me."
Rob Cross Video Interview
"I still feel i'm improving, i'm definitely not finished yet"— PDC Darts (@OfficialPDC) January 2, 2018
Less than 24 hours on from becoming World Champion, Rob Cross is determined as ever in his pursuit of success. pic.twitter.com/h7eeNXzYtw