Phil Haigh ✍️
Ronnie O’Sullivan is the most talented sportsman Britain has ever produced, reckons his old practice partner Anthony Hamilton, although he also says the Rocket talks ‘an absolute load of rubbish’.
Hamilton’s scoring-power in practice was famous, but it the immense talent of O’Sullivan from a very young age was clear.
So good was a teenage Rocket that it is no surprise to the Sheriff that he is still winning world titles at 46, securing his place as snooker’s finest ever player.
In fact, Hamilton not only sees O’Sullivan as the greatest snooker player ever, but the most talented sportsman ever to emerge from Britain.
Asked whether he could imagine Ronnie winning the World Championship 30 years on from those early days, Hamilton told Metro.co.uk: ‘Yeah I probably could, honestly. I imagined he could win it when he was 15 and I imagined he could win it when he was 50.
’15 year old Ronnie and 50 year old Ronnie are the same, basically, just the same genius. He’s gone through a bit of a varied storyline of getting to where he is, mentally, but he seems like that’s all under control now.
‘He’s just the best sportsman Britain has had, talent-wise, probably ever. I can’t think of anyone who’s got more talent in whatever sport they do.’
The world number 50 not only respects the immense talent the world number one possesses, but the amount of work he has put in to get the most out of his skills.
O’Sullivan has learned how to deal with the mental strains of the game, but not by accident, he has found a way of living and working that suits him and means he can sit atop the game as he approaches 50.
‘He hasn’t actually got the best mentality, because there’s a lot of hanging around all week and he doesn’t like it,’ said Hamilton.
‘He’s found a way to kill time, that’s the important thing. A lot of players aren’t suited for killing time and hanging around for a week, and if they’re good players they’re going to be away a lot.
‘I think that’s what he’s done. Off-table he’s sorted out how to kill time, he’s got his ways. He’s had to graft because he’s proper nuts isn’t he? He’s proper nuts. But he’s got his system now and it works for him and good on him, he’s done well.
‘He’s the fittest guy on tour now because of his ways. He’s probably one of the smartest snooker players, but no one really gives him much credit for the way his brain works when he’s out there, but it’s phenomenal, honestly.
‘He doesn’t want to play snooker unless he’s winning tournaments, so he’s found out ways to do it.’
At times in the history of the game it would seem unthinkable for a 46-year-old to be world champion and world number one, but it seems that O’Sullivan, along with John Higgins and Mark Williams in the Class of 92, are going to be around for some time to come.
‘Ronnie will probably outlast all of them because he’s that way inclined,’ believes Hamilton.
‘John and Mark could play, physically if they keep well, as long as they want to, but whether they want to or not is another thing.’
Hamilton is convinced that O’Sullivan is as obsessed with snooker as he ever has been and dismisses the suggestions the Rocket makes that he doesn’t practice much and is more interested in his other pursuits in life.
‘Ronnie talks an awful lot of rubbish,’ said Anthony. ‘He went to the Gibraltar Open, because he had to go for that BetVictor £150k bonus, he went to Gibraltar, got off the plane flying back, about 5pm and he went straight from Stanstead to the club to put a few hours practice in. It’s mental!
‘This geezer’s not interested in snooker? Give us a break, it’s rubbish. He practices as much as anyone. And he practices better and harder than anybody else, he wants it more than anybody else.
‘Whatever he says is an absolute load of rubbish. I think he just says it to wind people up, and people fall for it.’
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