Phil Haigh ✍️
Hossein Vafaei says it is time for Ronnie O’Sullivan to retire and let the younger generation grow snooker, believing the six-time world champion is disrespectful and talks down the sport too much.
Vafaei became the first Iranian to qualify for the Crucible on Wednesday night when he beat Lei Peifan 10-9 on the final black in the deciding frame at World Championship qualification.
The 27-year-old is passionate about representing his country on the sport’s biggest stage and believes his increasing success in snooker is making the game bigger and bigger in Iran.
The Prince of Persia not only wants to boost snooker’s profile at home, but globally, and he is not impressed with how, he believes, the sport’s biggest name does not try to do so as well.
After winning his first qualifier earlier in the week, Vafaei mentioned some past O’Sullivan comments, saying: ‘I think on TV they asked that of Ronnie O’Sullivan, he said, “If I was in his situation I’d rather have another job.”
‘But no. I will never give up. I’m working hard for my people, to make them proud, make my country proud and I’m born to make history.’
Vafaei once again mentioned O’Sullivan’s comments after beating Lei, and asked whether they frustrate him, he told Metro.co.uk: ‘Of course. A lot of things he says frustrates me. What kind of legend are you if you call people numpties?
‘I was and am still good friends with him, but I don’t like that. Maybe he likes it and gives him a good feeling but I think people should treat him like that as well. I treat him like he deserves.’
One of O’Sullivan’s more controversial comments in recent months came when he said he would not encourage children to play snooker, which John Higgins labelled a ‘disgrace’, and Vafaei now has even stronger words for, calling on the Rocket to hang up his cue.
‘That was very bad words, very bad for our sport,’ said the Iranian. ‘Listen, he doesn’t need to remind us he’s won 20 major tournaments. I think someone who is beside him should remind him that he is Ronnie O’Sullivan.
‘To be honest, Ronnie O’Sullivan without his team, without the people who are around him, he wouldn’t be here at all. He wouldn’t be here at all.
‘He’s comparing himself with someone else. He’s comparing me with someone else. I don’t like that. We don’t have to compare ourselves to others. He’s saying you are poor, I am rich, I am Ronnie O’Sullivan. I don’t like that. I have money, my people in Iran have money, but we have to respect human beings as well.
‘I don’t want to get involved in that kind of conversation really. I like him a lot, I am his fan, I love what he does but sometimes he’s disrespectful, he’s not good for the game.
‘I think he should retire, to be honest with you. He should retire and then the younger generation make the game bigger.’
Vafaei believes O’Sullivan’s complaints about venues, events and how snooker is not as ‘sexy’ as sports like golf and tennis are unfounded because the Prince of Persia thinks it should have been the Rocket taking the sport to greater levels instead of talking it down.
‘I don’t see any improvement, he’s been 20 years on top of this sport and what has he done for us?’ Vafaei asked. ‘This is my biggest question: What has he done for us?
‘I am the younger generation, I want to see what he’s done for our sport. Where are the big companies?
‘In my opinion he should have his own private jet, but he’s coming and complaining about 10 or 15 grand. You’ve been in the situation to make the game bigger, why haven’t you done it? How many contacts you’ve had to bring car companies or Rolex to our sport to make the game bigger?’
Vafaei himself has aspirations to be the finest player in the game, and he plans on being a greater ambassador for the sport if he does reach those heights.
‘Absolutely. If I get to that position, if I can help any players I will help,’ he said. ‘I’m not a selfish person. There is plenty of food. If you get food I have food as well. If you get money, I get money as well. We should think like that.
‘He has to go and think why he doesn’t have the private jet or bigger house like a footballer. Now he’s still playing for 70 grand or 50 grand, or he’ll say he won’t play in things.
‘He wants to make our sport small, okay, it’s time to tell him: ‘Retire, man. Retire,’
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This post appeared first on Snooker – Metro.