From kitchen fitter to 180 hitter: The story of Jose de Sousa

Jose de Sousa

Jose de Sousa has taken the darts world by storm by reaching tonight's BoyleSports Grand Slam of Darts final, but how did he go from kitchen fitter to 180 hitter?

On Friday December 14 2018 De Sousa averaged 87.83 in a 3-2 defeat to Michael Barnard in the first round of the 2018/19 World Championship.

Less than two years later, he finds himself on the verge of the biggest night of his career in a televised ranking final against James Wade.

To explain this unprecedented rise, we've delved into the unique story of the 46-year-old Portuguese talent.

De Sousa's darting journey began in Lisbon in 1993, playing soft-tip darts whenever his boss allowed him time off from his work as a carpenter and kitchen fitter.

His success on the soft-tip circuit saw him reach 60 finals, winning 54 of them, while he also met his Spanish partner at a tournament which resulted in a relocation to Madrid.

Jose de Sousa
De Sousa made his Ally Pally debut in 2012

Despite lacking in self-belief in his steel-tip darts ability, De Sousa sporadically tried his hand at steel-tip and in December 2011 competed in the World Championship for the first time where he was defeated 4-3 by Devon Petersen in a Preliminary Round match.

Over five years passed before his next foray into the PDC, narrowly missing out on winning a Tour Card in January 2017.

The following year saw De Sousa return to Alexandra Palace for his clash with Barnard, before successfully winning a Tour Card for the first time at Qualifying School in January 2019 which prompted him to leave his job and become a full-time professional.

De Sousa's first year on tour got off to a slow start, but after making steady improvements he reached his first Players Championship event final in June where he went down 8-5 to Wade.

History was made in September as he became the first Portuguese player to win a PDC title, which he backed up with a second just a month later, both coming at Players Championship events.

Jose de Sousa
De Sousa was becoming frustrated with his TV form

His success on the ProTour circuit earned him places in the 2020 stagings of the World Matchplay, World Grand Prix and European Championship.

Having suffered first round exits at the World Matchplay and World Grand Prix, De Sousa began to translate his floor form to the stage as he hit a nine-dart finish at the European Championship against Jeffrey de Zwaan, though defeat to Jonny Clayton followed in the second round.

Competing in his tenth televised PDC event, De Sousa has flourished at the Grand Slam, with his relentless scoring power showing an ability to compete and defeat the best players in the world over long-format matches, despite the occasional mis-count.

Jose de Sousa
The Grand Slam has been a life-changing week for De Sousa

De Sousa has won admirers throughout the week for his care-free approach to the game and quiet charisma which makes for a unique stage presence.

Here's what his manager Mac Elkin had to say about darts' newest star: "You could see from the start he had phenomenal scoring power but he just didn't believe in himself.

"Glen [Durrant] was the one who told him how good he was and that he had to believe in himself.

"After he lost at the World Grand Prix in October, he was feeling down and said 'why can I not win on the big stage?'

"Gary [Anderson] came over to him and explained that he is still a relative baby in the sport despite his age. He said 'you're too good for it not to happen.'

"Once he hit the nine-darter at the European Championship his confidence on stage has grown and I believe we're seeing the beginning of how good he can be.

"He does things his own way. Sometimes it's hard for me to watch when he mis-counts but he enjoys the game and he's got his own unique style."

Click here for ways to watch the BoyleSports Grand Slam of Darts wherever you are in the world.

BoyleSports Grand Slam of Darts Final
Tuesday November 24 (1800 GMT)

Jose De Sousa v James Wade