LUKE 'The Nuke' Littler’s former coach hailed the 16-year-old’s efforts as “absolutely amazing” after his history-making run at the World Darts Championship.

Tournament debutant Littler from Warrington, the youngest-ever finalist, was beaten 7-4 at Alexandra Palace by Frodsham-based Luke Humphries, who had just become world number one.

It came after a run that had included the teenage sensation beating former world champions Raymond van Barneveld and Rob Cross.

And Karl Holden, co-founder of St Helens Darts Academy, which Littler attended from the age of nine, said: “Definitely not the result we wanted, but he was playing the best player in the world.

“To play the best player in the world and do what he has done is absolutely amazing. How can somebody who is 16 do that? I don’t know.

“I was absolutely delighted to watch him in the final. I’m absolutely over the moon for him.

“End of the day, hats off to him. I’ve told the kids…appreciate great darts, and that’s what we saw.”

Holden added: “At the age of 16, he’s one of the biggest names in world sport, never mind world darts. Just to have him in this club was a privilege.

“Obviously we put our little part in, but it’s his ability that is causing mayhem around the world.

“He’s just at the beginning of his superstar career. We’re very proud of him, we really are.”

While Littler’s name was barely known beyond Warrington and St Helens before the start of the world championship last month, this is no overnight success story.

Speaking before the final, which he watched as members held a party at the academy’s home, Holden said: “He has been coming here since he was nine.

“When he first came as a kid you could see he was very special and he just got better and better. Every year he was a bit better than the last.

“We put him up to the under-14s when he was nine, but three months after that he was smashing all them to bits.

“He hardly lost so we said, ‘What do we do now?’ We put him into the elite group, which is our best players and he had just turned 10.

“Obviously he puts a lot of hours in and we had to tell him to stop coming as he was so good.

“He needed to be playing at a better standard. He was good enough to win men’s tournaments at 13 or 14. And he did. His ability is second to none.

“The best players reach a level in their twenties that he’s reached at 16.

“We’ve produced some good players. Probably about 40 county players, but Luke is something else.”