That’s the question the the Telegraph asked Ronnie and here is the answer:
2 DECEMBER 2016 • 9:14AM
We asked snooker legend Ronnie O’Sullivan, 40, what his younger self would think if he could see him now…
“I never really chose to play snooker; my dad did that for me, and I wish he hadn’t. When I was a kid, I just wanted to have a laugh, potting the odd ball, but I’d probably have been happier playing golf or football, or driving cars for a living – something outside, with an adrenalin buzz.
Dad was ambitious on my behalf. He sat me down when I was 10 and told me that if I wanted to play sport I should try to be the best in the world, and if I wanted to do that, I needed to stop mucking around. In that moment, he turned me into the hyper-disciplined monster I still am.
He used to compare the snooker hall in Chigwell to a crèche: it was somewhere he knew I’d be safe and stay put, rather than out on the streets causing trouble. He had spies there, too – older members would report back to him if I’d got the hump that day and snapped a cue, or wasted my pocket money on the fruit machines.
By the time I was a teenager I was pretty well drilled, winning tournaments all over the place. Apart from the past five years, that time between 11 and 15 was probably the best, most consistent snooker I’ve played. Everything went a bit wrong in the following two decades. If that 15- or 16-year-old could see what I’m like now, he’d probably think I’d done OK. I’m clean now, on the straight and narrow, happy. He’d also think I was an idiot for going down some of the paths I did.
My dad went away to prison when I was 16, and with him gone I barely practised for nine months. Instead I got myself a first girlfriend and had fun with her. Then my dad came out on bail and read me the riot act, putting me back in training and getting me to win again. A year later, he was put away for good [O’Sullivan’s father, also named Ronnie, was jailed for murder in 1992], and I went completely off the rails. I had no education and no other skills, though, so snooker was my only real job prospect.
From the age of 16 to 35, I was rubbish. I was deeply unhappy, too, and the young me would know it, since I’ve only ever been happy when I’ve been in control of things. I was drinking far too much, dabbling in narcotics, and found myself in nightclubs every night. I didn’t enjoy that environment at all, so I anchored myself to snooker and knuckled down.
Throughout my life, I’ve never been bothered by the records or titles. I always want to be the best I can, but I basically play snooker in the same way I did as a kid – just trying to pull off good shots. It’s why I’ve dropped in and out of the game: trophies are fun for about five seconds. I prefer the art of it; some day’s it’s good, other days it’s not. I think teenage Ronnie would have some grudging respect for some of the breaks on my YouTube highlight reel, though it’s probably nothing he couldn’t have done.
I never would have thought about having kids either, that’s for sure. I love my children deeply, but I wasn’t gifted in the fatherhood department. I struggle with how it interferes with my own life, to be honest, but I do the best I can. Still, I’m healthy, I eat well, I get up and go for runs. With writing and punditry, too, I’ve found two things outside of playing that I love. The young me would appreciate that, because the structure makes me happy.
My son, Ronnie, is quite similar to me. He’s happy in his own little world, and just gets on with things. At one time he wanted to play snooker, but I talked him out of that one. It isn’t good for you as a person. That’s something I’ve got on the young me, I suppose. He wouldn’t know why, but I’d tell him never to pick up a snooker cue. Play something else – maybe tennis. I could be Andy Murray right now, and would have been happy the whole time. But I’m not, and I haven’t been.”