Neil Robertson names Ronnie O'Sullivan among his three sporting heroes

October 20, 2022
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Phil Haigh ✍️  

Ronnie O'Sullivan and Neil Robertson seen during the semi-
Ronnie O’Sullivan and Neil Robertson have been enjoying battles on the table for years (Picture: Getty Images)

Neil Robertson has named his three sporting heroes, with snooker rival Ronnie O’Sullivan making the cut alongside legends of basketball and Australian Rules Football.

Robertson and O’Sullivan have long been battling it out on the snooker table, first meeting way back in 2005 on the professional tour and contesting seven big finals over the years.

At 40, Robertson is only six years O’Sullivan’s junior, but so young was the Rocket when he soared into contention for major titles that he was an idol of the Australian when he was growing up in Melbourne.

O’Sullivan turned pro at 16 and won the UK Championship at 17, and Robertson says the Rocket quickly became his hero on the baize.

His other choices may have been harder to guess, with Robertson choosing basketball legend Michael Jordan straight away, while he also went for Nathan Buckley, the former captain and coach of his beloved Aussie Rules team Collingwood.

Asked for his three sporting heroes by Eurosport, Robertson said: ‘It would be Michael Jordan, Nathan Buckley – he was the captain of my Aussie Rules football team – an absolute legend of that sport.

AFL Rd 13 - Melbourne v Collingwood
Nathan Buckley is a Magpies legend (Picture: Getty Images)

‘The other one…I guess especially as a kid probably Ronnie. Even though he’s not that much older than me, I think growing up he was someone I idolised.’

O’Sullivan got the nod, but Robertson says there were other snooker players who he found to be appealing characters and players when he was a youngster.

‘[Stephen] Hendry as well, Jimmy [White], it’s like a group in snooker for me. You could say [John] Higgins and [Mark] Williams as well, they all had something different about them that drew me to the sport, it’s hard to pick one.’

Asked for his thoughts on youngsters who could be flagbearers for snooker in the future, and hopefully be idols for other young players coming through, Robertson plumped for the top two Chinese talents in the game.

‘If I was to pick young flagbearers it would be [Zhao] Xintong and [Yan] Bingtao, they’re two players who really, really want it,’ he said.

‘Xinting…it finally seems to have clicked with him with his practice.

‘I remember going to the academy, he’d be practicing long balls, play a few then be flicking through social media on his phone. I’m thinking this kid’s got no chance unless he sorts that out, which he clearly has done.

‘Bingtao is a practice machine. He wants to be the best he can be.’

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