Ronnie O’Sullivan almost retired 12 years ago because of two snooker legends

Ronnie O’Sullivan explains why he made a 146 in 2016

Ronnie O’Sullivan admits he almost retired from snooker 12 years ago after contemplating whether he had hit his peak. The seven-time world champion had just won his fourth title and believed that at 35, he should consider winding down his career having seen snooker icons Stephen Hendry and Steve Davis decline around the same age.

At the time, O’Sullivan’s love of the sport was slowly dwindling but as COVID-19 hit the United Kingdom in 2020 and residents were forced to stay inside, he began to rediscover his passion for the game.

Speaking to talkSPORT and BBC Radio 5 Live, he said: “Retirement was in my mind when I was about 35, because I thought you were meant to be done and dusted at that age. But then I just got better. I met Steve Peters and got my head right because I didn’t have a head before that. It was all pot a ball if I felt like it, if I didn’t, then great, go home and get out of there.

“And from there I started winning more, and I have been more successful in those last 10 years. But at 35 Stephen Hendry had kind of finished his career. Steve Davis had finished his career, so I thought it was going to happen to me – but obviously it hasn’t yet.

“Covid probably helped me in that regard, because it enabled me to focus back on snooker. I have attention disorder so if something is better over there, I neglect my snooker. But Covid stopped that, so I just had to focus on practising and won two world titles in three years.

“I do still practice. I say if I can give it 12-15 hours a week, that is good for me. I am not good with 10-5 every day like most people do. I can’t do that. But if I do 15 hours a week it doesn’t matter how I do it. It could be all in a day or two, and then take five days off and enjoy my life.

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“Obviously, for me there was massive gaps where I lost six, seven years to drinking and taking cannabis. Then there was maybe another four years later where I was dealing with stuff away from the table which I didn’t deal with very well.”

He added: “Going to rehab taught me that happiness is an inside job, which I truly believe. And since that moment, in 2000, I have always believed that.”

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