John Higgins may have almost called time on the sport but the four-time snooker world champion insists the enjoyment is back as he prepares for his Crucible return.

The Scot considered throwing in the towel across numerous points across the season, with the pleasure of a game that has brought him global honours deserting him over time.

Early defeat to Alan McManus in December’s UK Championship proved the catalyst for Higgins asking the question of himself and his future in the game.

But with a return to the Crucible and snooker’s own Theatre of Dreams occupying his Easter weekend, the 43-year-old is back with a smile on his face.

“The sun is always out for these 17 days in Sheffield,” said Higgins, who faces fellow veteran Mark Davis in the first round, starting on Sunday morning.

“It’s special every time you come down and play and get involved, it’s an event to thoroughly look forward to.

“You remember everything, coming back here brings back good and bad memories – it’s a special place. It will be a say day if we ever do leave this venue.

“I’ve spent the past two weeks with Stephen Maguire, picking balls out mostly, and it’s good preparation knowing that you’re playing faces who are at the top of the game.

“My mood is a lot better, it was about getting back out of the house and getting that enjoyment back in the game.

“I hadn’t enjoyed it much but getting that back was the main thing – if that happens, then you can always produce better snooker.”

  • Watch the World Championship LIVE on Eurosport and Eurosport Player with analysis from Jimmy White and Neal Foulds