PAUL Collier never expected to take charge of another World Championship final after presiding over Ronnie O’Sullivan’s second Crucible triumph back in 2004.

The 45-year-old always hoped he would get another chance to referee snooker’s biggest match, although he thought the opportunity had passed him by.

But, more than a decade since becoming the youngest world final referee, Newport’s Collier is getting ready to do it all again in Sheffield this year.

On the table, O’Sullivan’s defeat of Scotland’s Graeme Dott 12 years ago wasn’t one that set the green baize alight.

It was actually the antics of a streaker that grabbed a lot of the headlines prior to ‘The Rocket’ sealing an 18-8 victory – Collier’s hoping nothing like that happens this time around.

In the grander scheme of things, the 2004 final came some 18 months before Collier quit the main tour because he felt he couldn’t justify being away from his family when the financial rewards weren’t there.

He admits that by the end of 2005 he had lost his love for the sport and it wasn’t until June 2011 that he made his comeback with snooker under the leadership of Barry Hearn.

“At the end of 2005 snooker was in a bad way,” he said. “There were only five ranking events and the game was being run poorly.

“I wasn’t enjoying it at the time and felt I couldn’t go any further. I didn’t think I’d go back because I didn’t think the game would recover.

“But Barry Hearn came in and then I had a call from someone else who had left like me and who had decided to go back.

“I returned to the tour and haven’t looked back since, but the main reason I went back was because there was a chance to be a tournament director, not just a referee.

“I have experience of working with computers in previous jobs and our scoring system was being computerised so that gave me a new challenge.”

Collier started refereeing at the age of 14 when he was a budding amateur player in his hometown.

He then joined the pro tour as an official in 1992 and worked his way up the ladder before being awarded the Crucible showpiece.

Looking back on the O’Sullivan-Dott clash, he added: “When I started watching snooker Steve Davis was at his peak and he passed me back stage before the final after doing a link for the BBC.

“I was nervous at the time but he wished me good luck and told me I’d earned it so that was great.

“There aren’t a great deal of things that can go wrong for a referee, you just have to make sure you concentrate 100 per cent.

“World finals are one of the easiest matches to do because if you can’t get up for that then you won’t be able to get up for anything.

“You’ve already been at the championships for 15 days and it’s not as though you’re going into it cold.

“That final went well for me from a snooker point of view but it was the first time that there had been a streaker at the Crucible – I could have done without that.

“He just jumped out of the audience, ripped off his Velcro suit and then hid under the table.

“People were quite angry at the time but it was one of those things.”

He continued: “I wasn’t really expecting to get picked again for the final.

“I always wanted to do another one but I thought that ship had sailed.

“Not many referees have done more than one final so I’m lucky to be part of a select group.

“I’m very happy with two finals but I wouldn’t say no to a third.

“I’ve really found my love for snooker again and things have been so much better since Barry Hearn came in.

“We’ve got fantastic television audiences and there is a lot of money up for grabs for the players now.”

Collier is going to be a busy man between now and the end of the season.

He heads to Beijing today for the China Open before returning for the Crucible qualifiers and then the World Championship itself, which runs from April 16 to May 2.

He has the honour of refereeing the opening match involving reigning champion Stuart Bingham and also the last game of the event, with a couple in between in as well.