The pair, who are titans of the snooker world, have both struggled with addiction issues in the past, but continue to compete at the highest level.
But it wasn’t in the snooker hall that Jimmy first met ‘The Rocket’. Speaking on the Anything Goes with James English podcast, Jimmy revealed that their first encounter came when their two daughters were attending the same school.
Jimmy described how the pair’s initial meeting took place watching their children perform in the school play, before escalating into a booze-fuelled night out.
“We shook hands and we both simultaneously said, ‘fancy a drink tomorrow?’” he recalled.
“It was Christmas Eve – I’ll never forget it – and we met in a pub at 11 o’clock in the morning, the Rose and Crown in Wimbledon which used to be our local.”
After Ronnie had arrived, Jimmy said the pair drank at the pub until about 3 in the afternoon, before then spending the rest of the evening touring around South London.
He recalled: “I took him to all the housing estates and pubs that I knew, and took him all around South London. And he got home at about 2 o’clock in the morning.”
It was the start of a 35-year friendship, with Jimmy calling Ronnie “the nicest, sweetest, coolest man you’d ever meet in your life”.
Jimmy also confessed that Ronnie is the best snooker player he’d ever come up against.
“O’Sullivan is the best I’ve ever seen,” he continued.
“He can create situations from nowhere. And he has a few demons, he’s been sober for a long time, he does his running and it keeps him sane.
“When you’re a perfectionist like he is, he’s f***ing great at football, he’s great at golf, it’s frightening. He’s just a natural ball striker.”
But, he said, he didn’t agree with Ronnie’s tendency to criticise the standard of other players’ performances.
Jimmmy added: “When he says these comments – because he’d help anyone out, he’s one of the biggest hearts you’ll ever meet in your life – but sometimes when players are that good at their sport, they don’t realise that some of these players would give anything to have 10% of their talent.”
Having overcome his gambling, drug and alcohol addictions, Jimmy is continuing to play snooker and he revealed that he thinks he’s in the best form of his life.
He explained: “I’m far from done.
“After this… I’m going back up to Leicester to try and win the British Open.”
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