Phil Haigh ✍️
Ronnie O’Sullivan says he wishes he hadn’t won a seventh World Snooker Championship title this year, as he doesn’t enjoy the attention, pressure and expectation that has come with it.
The Rocket beat Judd Trump in the final at the Crucible, after seeing off Dave Gilbert, Mark Allen, Stephen Maguire and John Higgins, as he equalled Stephen Hendry’s record of seven world crowns.
It was an emotional moment for the 46-year-old, who was in tears after securing the win in Sheffield, but he now says he would rather not have lifted the trophy for a seventh time.
O’Sullivan insists he prefers to fly under the radar and not have to deal with everything that goes with being at the summit of snooker, which he says he gets no enjoyment from at all.
‘After looking back on it, I actually wish I hadn’t have won it,’ O’Sullivan told The Climb Podcast. ‘The question I get asked more now than anything is, “do you still play snooker?” I want to say to them, no. I want to say I’ve retired, I do little bits and pieces, it’s great and I slip under the radar.
‘All of a sudden when I’ve won this, I’ve got 600 messages on my phone, everyone’s saying well done and asking when I’m going for the eighth. It’s like my worst nightmare come true again.’
A documentary was being made about the Rocket during this year’s World Championship and he says it was this added incentive that pushed him on to succeed again in Sheffield.
‘I didn’t want to get in the pit again, but I did,’ he explained. ‘The reason for it was I had a film crew following me about, so that kind of spurred me on to do as well as I could. Probably if they weren’t following me about I might have made the quarters or semis and thought that’s enough, because I don’t like going so deep anymore.
‘On reflection, it was great to win it, but I was never driven by records or awards. Things that a lot of people seem to think is important in sport, for me it’s about loving what I do and enjoying just playing for fun, treating it like a hobby.
‘But to win the world title you can’t enjoy it, you have to go deep and find some reserves from within, you find something within you to push forward.’
O’Sullivan is very much against doing anything that he doesn’t want to do, and that includes staying for the post-World Championship party, over the road from the Crucible.
‘Going to the after party is what annoyed me. I’m just like, I don’t need this, I just want a cup of tea and go to my bed,’ he said.
‘That’s why I enjoyed it when I won it in Covid in 2020, there was no crowd, no party, just whoever happened to be there with me. I just can’t be doing with the circus, the circus is what drives me crazy. The World Championships is the biggest circus of all.’
The consensus greatest player ever is back to world number one and has won two of the last three World Championships, and has done so by trying to only do things he enjoys in snooker.
He says that biting the bullet and going all out for victory will guarantee him success, but in general he only needs to put in half that effort to remain near the top of the sport.
‘I just disengaged about seven or eight years ago with anything that didn’t make me feel comfortable in snooker,’ he continued. ‘There’s no amount of money in the world someone can offer me to do something I don’t want to do.
‘It was great. I knew I could have a longer career, more enjoyable, more happy, more fun. Still compete, still be in the top eight in the world because it’s easy for me to be in the top eight, I’ve just got to be 50 per cent, really.
‘I go 100 per cent and I go back to number one, like I have done. But I don’t want to be at 100 per cent, I don’t want to be that animal anymore, it’s exhausting, it’s tiring and I’ve done it.
‘Having won the world title and having got back to number one, it’s not a good place to be for me, personally.
‘I’m happy with a cup of tea, coffee, a few friends, I don’t want a lot out of life to be honest with you.’
For more stories like this, check our sport page.
This post appeared first on Snooker – Metro.