Ronnie speaks very fondly about Steve Davis in this interview by the Express
Ronnie O’Sullivan reveals why THIS photograph is his favourite
CHAMPION Ronnie, 41, recalls a chance meeting with his idol Steve Davis when he was 10 and a snooker match he’ll never forget.
This is me, aged 10, meeting my snooker hero, Steve Davis for the first time. I’d been playing in a snooker competition at my local club in Barking that day and my dad suggested a Chinese takeaway on the way home.
When he rang the restaurant, the owner said they had snooker player David Steven dining with them.
Dad, who’d never heard of a snooker player by that name, asked if he meant Kirk Stevens, but he insisted it was David Steven.
When we got there, it turned out it was Steve Davis. Dad urged me to say hello and ask for his autograph.
I was very nervous, but I summoned up the courage to shake his hand and Steve asked what my name was.
When I told him, he said, “Oh, you’re that young kid who has just had the century break.”
It had been in all the snooker magazines because I was the youngest player ever to have made 100, but I was still gobsmacked.
Steve Davis had heard of me. Fortunately, my dad had his camera so he took a snap of me and Steve. Mum later had it enlarged and it’s now displayed at her house alongside my trophies.
It’s mad when you think about it – Steve was the then world champion, little suspecting that the boy pictured next to him would also go on to become world champion. I
have huge respect for Steve and I’ve studied his game a lot. I’d watch him on television and mimic everything he did. I still do to a certain extent.
Steve was a machine. A lot of players didn’t play with much confidence and you didn’t fancy their chances, whereas Steve would pot one ball after another – bang, bang, bang – and you thought he was never going to miss.
Part of his secret was that he spent hours practising, perfecting his technique. A few players would try tricky shots, but often the secret to successful snooker is getting the basics right.
Steve was better at that than anyone. If you were going to model your game on anyone, I’d say model it on him.
We first played together when he invited me to practise with him at Romford Snooker Centre when I was 15. I felt honoured and kept telling myself I mustn’t embarrass myself, if I stole one frame that would be great.
So when he beat me 5-3, I was quietly pleased. I’d given him a good game.
Looking back, I wish I’d been a bit more brutal, but it’s difficult when you’re in complete awe of someone.
One of our most memorable professional games was in 1997 when he beat me in the Benson and Hedges Masters final. I was 8-4 up at the interval, and I thought there was no way he would catch up. He beat me 10-8 and I didn’t get a shot.
It was sad to see him retire after a 38-year career in the spring of 2016. We’ve never seen much emotion from Steve, but it was obviously a massive thing for him, particularly as his decision came a month after the death of his father, Bill.
He admitted he’d continued playing as long as he had partly for him. All the players knew Bill. He was a lovely guy. He fitted my first snooker table with his other son, Keith.
He and Steve were like an old married couple. I can relate to that because although my dad is a very different character, we also have a close bond. Both dads wanted the best for their sons.”
There is also a very different interview in the mirror, where Ronnie speaks about how he felt when Laila was trapped in the Barcelona attack, how she helps him to stay away from drinking and how he leaves it to his father to decide if and when he should retire.
Ronnie O’Sullivan reveals horror moment fiancée called while hiding from terrorist in freezer
The snooker star has told how he felt ‘helpless’ as his fiancée hid from the attacker in a restaurant after a van ploughed through the busy Las Ramblas, killing 13 people and injuring 80
21:47, 18 NOV 2017
Of all the dark moments in troubled snooker legend Ronnie O’Sullivan ’s life, this was the most chilling.
His mobile went off as he headed back to his hotel from a match – and on the other end of the line was distraught fiancée Laila Rouass : she was hiding in a restaurant freezer room during August’s Barcelona terror attack.
She had run for cover with her 10-year-old daughter Inez after a van ploughed through the busy Las Ramblas, killing 13 people and injuring 80.
Armed police were combing the tourist area looking for the murderous driver, 22-year-old Younes Abouyaaqoub.
And Ronnie, 42, knew a similar attack on London Bridge in June had seen more people killed after the terrorists had abandoned their vehicle.
Today, for the first time, the 41-year-old five times world champ speaks of his despair and fear as he took the call.
“I felt helpless,” he says. “I just wanted them both to be safe.
“We just kept talking. I was very nervous for them. She then started making her way back to her hotel amid the pandemonium. We kept talking until she got back into the room.
“It hit me later when I started watching it on CNN live. I thought ‘s**t this is serious’. It was a huge relief to know they were both safe. That’s the times we live in now.”
Former Holby City and Strictly star Laila, 46, has been a rock for Ronnie.
The pair have been engaged since 2013 and he says they spend every night together when he’s not on tour.
Ronnie leans on Laila for support and credits her with helping him stay on the straight and narrow.
The star has battled depression and been in rehab for drug and alcohol addiction over the years, and praises her for helping him stay off the bottle.
“I’m with someone who doesn’t drink,” he says. “Once I start I don’t want to stop. If you surround yourself with positive people, hopefully they rub off on you.”
But one thing The Rocket isn’t ready to give up yet is his sport. He’s given that decision to dad Ronnie Snr who has served life for a gangland killing.
“I ring my dad up, saying, ‘I know I’m not young any more, but should I quit?’,” says Ronnie. “He’ll tell me I’m alright. He’s warned me he will tell me if he thinks I need to retire.
“And if he did, I would think seriously about it.
“But there is bit left in the tank. I just want to see if I’ve still got it.”