Team Unicorn star Joe Cullen claimed his maiden European Tour title with a sensational performance to defeat Michael van Gerwen 8-5 in the European Darts Matchplay final in Mannheim on Sunday night.
The Bradford ace claimed the third ranking title of his career in brilliant fashion as he overcame World Champion Van Gerwen with a clinical and confident showing.
Having never previously won past the semi-finals on the European Tour, Cullen saw off William O'Connor, Glen Durrant and stablemate James Wade on Sunday to book his spot in the decider at the Maimarkthalle.
He showed no nerves against the World Champion, opening the final with a 180 and claiming four of the opening five legs to move 4-1 up, including a 14-darter to break throw.
Van Gerwen responded in the sixth, only to see Cullen power home a 170 checkout to bring the German crowd to their feet as he opened up a 5-2 lead.
Van Gerwen showed his class with three legs in a row to level the final, but Cullen regained the edge with success 13-darters to lead 7-5 - punishing misses from the Dutchman to break - before an 88 finish for a 14-darter secured the £25,000 title.
"To beat Michael in the final is amazing," said Cullen, who averaged over 101 in the final. "It's the biggest moment in my career, it's great.
"Michael is the consummate professional, he's so gracious in defeat and victory. Me and Michael are good friends and he congratulated me wholeheartedly.
"It was just one of those weekends. For us mere mortals, we're not Michael, the stage is where we all play really well or play really bad and Michael has set the standard.
"I've been threatening to win a tournament for a while and this weekend I believed I was going to win it. It genuinely believed it. I couldn't see that anyone could beat me today."
Wade survived a missed match dart against Wayne Jones in the third round before seeing off Jonny Clayton 6-4 in the quarter-finals, but lost out in his bid for a second European Darts Matchplay title to Cullen.
Cullen’s success sees him move back into the world’s top 16 as he jumps three places to 15th following the Mannheim triumph.
Photo credit - PDC Europe