STARSTRUCK Shaun Murphy reckons Mark Selby has usurped John Higgins’ crown as snooker’s greatest ever all-rounder.

And the 2005 world champion believes he’s finally back in the big time after going down to a thrilling 18-15 defeat in Monday’s Crucible final.

Murphy, the world No.7, was unable to complete a stirring late night comeback as a gutsy final frame clearance from Selby propelled him to a fourth World Championship title.

That catapulted him deeper into the pantheon of potting greats and Murphy, a three-time Triple Crown winner, says that should cement his status as the finest all-round player ever.

The admiring 38-year-old, who was playing in his fourth World Championship final, said: "In my opinion, having just gone toe-to-toe with him for two days, I’ve got him down as the best all-rounder we’ve ever seen.

“He’s just granite in all areas – he’s a scorer, a potter, and his long potting was sensational yesterday.

“It’s phenomenal. I’m coming here chasing a second title and he’s now won four. He scores very highly and has all the attributes you need to be successful whether it’s in sport, life, business or whatever.

“For me, he’s the best all-rounder we’ve ever seen. John Higgins was classed as the best all-rounder but for me, Mark Selby is better.

“He’s got more patience, he’s willing to wait longer, he plays cleverer shots and is just granite.

“I played a number of shots that I walked away from feeling very happy about things, only for it to be my last shot of the game. He’s just granite in all areas and fully deserves every ounce of success he gets.

“The thing he’s got that others don’t, and he’s certainly got more of it than me, is patience. He can stand there all day if it takes that and it’s a credit to him that he’s able to do that. It’s not an attribute I have and ultimately that’s why I’m not the winner.

“It’s been a massive thrill to come here on no form at all. I’ve shown no signs of a run coming, and it’s great to be back at the business end of tournament.

“I’m obviously disappointed to have come second. But it’s is a big turning point for me in terms of my career, outlook and life in general.”

Murphy came close to completing one of the great Crucible comebacks but overhauling a 17-13 deficit proved a step too far.

Selby, the world No.4, went into Monday’s evening session with a 14-11 advantage after breaks of 100 and 56 from Murphy in the afternoon had kept the three-time champion at arm’s length.

Selby steered himself to just a single frame from victory but successive centuries from a fired-up Murphy – 100 and 103 – gave the Jester from Leicester the jitters.

Murphy had a fine chance to cut the gap to just a single frame in the 33rd but after gambling on a red down the cushion with the rest, Selby held his nerve to edge over the line.

And that made him just the fifth player to lift the World Championship trophy at the Crucible, following in the glittering baize footsteps of Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis, Ronnie O'Sullivan and Higgins.

Murphy lives in Dublin with his family and has been open about his struggles on the behind closed doors circuit this season.

He's resented being away from his loved ones but hopes reaching a first Crucible final for six years can be a shot in the arm to his career.

Murphy, a nine-time ranking event winner, added: “It’s been a dark year for me, not living on this island and spending a lot of time isolating in hotels and away from my family and children.

“There’s been a lot of isolating in hotels – even more so than the others lads. Life has been extremely challenging so to come out of that, play like I have and perform like I have, I’m thrilled.

“I’d lost the belief that one day I could win it again but I think I’ve show at 38, my best years aren’t behind me and maybe they’re still to come. I’ll be back next year.”

Watch the World Snooker Championship live on Eurosport and Eurosport app from April 17- May 3