Hossein Vafaei has revealed his pride after his historic Crucible debut ended at the hands of Judd Trump in the opening round.
The Prince of Persia became the first Iranian to appear at the spiritual home of snooker, having beaten Simon Lichtenberg and Lei Peifan during the qualifiers earlier this month.
But despite breaks of 121 and 99, the world number 19 was comfortably beaten 10-4 by Trump on Thursday.
It brought the curtain down on what has been an impressive campaign for Vafaei, who claimed his maiden ranking title at the Shootout in January.
Although his Crucible bow came to a premature end, the 27-year-old expressed his delight at appearing on the sport’s biggest stage.
“I’m very happy to make history for my country. That was a very big achievement for me,” he said.
“It was a great journey and I absolutely enjoyed it. I will come back stronger, the same as always. I improve slowly, but this is just the beginning.
“It was great. We all dream of playing at the home of snooker, which is the Crucible. It was fantastic.
“Hopefully, I can be a good role model for the Iranian players and people. I am proud of myself; I’ve done very well for this sport.”