Mark Selby says Ronnie O’Sullivan’s ‘long overdue’ BBC Sports Personality of the Year recognition will finally put snooker on the sporting map – and the three-time world champion wants to follow in the Rocket’s footsteps.

The Leicester potter beat Iranian Hossein Vafaei 6-2 to book his place in the last 16 of the UK Championship just minutes after O’Sullivan, who was crowned king of the Crucible for the sixth time this year, was announced on the six-star BBC shortlist.

O’Sullivan beat Selby in a semi-final thriller on his way to the title but the world No.5 hailed his old rival and admits he’s got eyes on the gong himself.

“I think it’s amazing for snooker in general, to keep snooker on the map and in the shop window,” the 37-year-old said.

“And I think it’s long overdue for Ronnie to even be in the shortlist. For me, he should have been in it many, many years ago with what he’s achieved in the game. It’s fantastic for him and for snooker to be in the running.

“Don’t get me wrong, I think Lewis Hamilton will probably win it, but there’s no reason why he can’t come second or third.

“If you look at what Ronnie’s achieved, it’s double the amount of ranking events I’ve won and double the amount of Masters, so it’s well-deserved.

“Fingers crossed he gets in the top three – there’s no reason why not, and I think he should get in the top three.”

Asked if he’d like to follow in O’Sullivan’s footsteps, Selby added: “It would be fantastic.

“It’s a great honour to be in the top three or even in the shortlist. It’s something I’d like to be in – but I think I’ve got a long way to go still yet.”

O’Sullivan, who was stunned by Switzerland’s Alexander Ursenbacher in the second round, has won 19 ranking event titles more than Selby but the Jester from Leicester continued his pursuit of a third UK Championship with a solid performance over Vafaei.

The 2012 and 2016 UK champion rolled in breaks of 65, 52 and 50 to down the world No.36 and book a clash against good friend and world No.21 Barry Hawkins in the last 16.

It’s been three years since Selby was last a Triple Crown winner and even behind closed doors, the three-time Masters champion admits he’d love to get his hands on a major trophy once more.

“It would mean everything,” he added.

“If I was lifting the trophy at the end of the week it would feel just as good as it did all those years ago when I won it before with a full crowd there.”

Watch the UK Championship LIVE on Eurosport and Eurosport app. Follow all the latest tournament news on