Rob Cross has revealed the fall from cloud nine of going from “novice” to world champion left him in a spiral of depression.

Former electrician Cross, who lit up Alexandra Palace as a glorious underdog 18 months ago, admitted the fall-out from triumph left him playing like a “zombie.”

The world No.2 has learned to keep the demons at bay, and on Thursday night he was runner-up at the Unibet Premier League play-offs, losing 11-5 to his successor as world champion, Michael van Gerwen, in the final.

But in a brutal assessment of his form, Cross conceded the flip-side of glory had taken a heavy toll on his mental health.

Cross in action against Raymond van Barneveld
 

The finest marksman from Hastings since the invading Normans located King Harold's bullseye in 1066 said: “I've still got it – but I won the world title as a novice and I've been through a life-changing time.

“Maybe I was suffering from depression last year because I didn't enjoy coming to play darts. I didn't feel myself and, looking back, I think there was something wrong with me.

“Being a world champion was great, don't get me wrong, but it also caused me a lot of problems. I managed to keep going until September, but I played the rest of the year like a zombie.

“I was probably broken, and there was no filter to deal with it.

Cross won the PDC World Championship in 2018
 

“I got chucked in the deepest end possible and I struggled – but I'm not having a go at the PDC. They offer ordinary people the chance to change their lives, and it doesn't matter whether you have been playing six months or 10 years, you have to deal with it.

“I've had to learn the hard way, but I'm getting there. Me being me, I thought I didn't need any help.”

Cross picked up £120,000 from the Premier League's travelling circus, and he remains a distant second behind Van Gerwen on the Professional Darts Corporation order of merit.

And at next month's World Cup of Darts in Hamburg, Cross and Michael Smith will be top seeds as England bid to win the tournament for the fifth time in nine years.

Holland, who have also lifted the trophy four times, are the only other nation to have won it.

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