Jose De Sousa was unable to hold back the tears after booking his spot in a first Betfred World Matchplay quarter-final at the Winter Gardens on Wednesday night.
De Sousa produced a sensational display to deny 2019 champion Rob Cross in a thrilling contest, which saw both players average over 103.
The Portuguese star established a 9-4 cushion before Cross threatened another famous fightback, after he recovered from 8-2 down to dump out Chris Dobey in round one.
However, De Sousa kept his cool, firing in back-to-back 180s before pinning double four with his last dart to close out an 11-8 victory.
“This means the world to me,” said the seventh seed, who averaged 103.26 and landed nine maximums to break new ground in Blackpool.
“Nobody can imagine how happy I am. I have worked very hard, and now I can start to play a wonderful game.
“I haven’t hit a 100 average for a long while, but now I feel great, this gives me so much confidence.
“My scoring is always good, but when I hit my doubles, I am a dangerous player for everybody.”
De Sousa enjoyed a meteoric rise after securing his PDC Tour Card in January 2019, following up a series of ranking successes with a maiden televised triumph at the 2020 Grand Slam of Darts.
This saw the 48-year-old included in the 2021 Premier League, and he performed magnificently on debut, obliterating the tournament record for 180s, previously held by Gary Anderson.
De Sousa was beaten by Jonny Clayton in last year’s Premier League final, but he’s struggled to rediscover that blistering form, having failed to reach a PDC ranking final since July 2021.
“It has been a very difficult year for me,” said De Sousa, detailing his recent injury problems.
“When you know you have the talent and the class to win every match, but you cannot do it, it’s difficult.
“I’ve worked very hard to get stronger in my arms, and I hope in a couple of months I can be in the best shape ever.
“I feel good. I don’t have any pain at the moment, and I hope that I can soon be the world’s Special One again!”
De Sousa will now take on Gerwyn Price for a place in the semi-finals on Friday night, after the Welshman fought back to defeat Dave Chisnall 11-9 in a dramatic contest.
Price will reclaim the world number one spot if he lifts the coveted Phil Taylor Trophy on July 24, although the Special One is hoping to spoil the party.
“My game has just come back at the right moment. This could be a big turning point,” De Sousa added.
“I am only thinking game by game. If I feel confident then I have a great chance to win.
“This is the second biggest tournament behind the World Championship, so this means the world to me.
“I cannot explain how I would feel if I won this title. My emotions would be in the sky!”
The Betfred World Matchplay is being broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK, through the PDC's worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN and Viaplay, and on PDCTV (excluding UK, Germany, Austria & Switzerland based subscribers).
2022 Betfred World Matchplay
Schedule of Play
Thursday July 21 (2000 BST)
Peter Wright v Dimitri Van den Bergh
Michael van Gerwen v Nathan Aspinall
Friday July 22 (2000 BST)
Dirk van Duijvenbode v Danny Noppert
Gerwyn Price v Jose de Sousa