Eurosport continues with their “vodcast” series, and this article is a teaser to the one likely to be shown today, which means that the complete interview will probably be on their youtube channel tomorrow.
This one is about Ronnie’s struggles mainly
O’Sullivan: Rehab was the moment my career truly started
Ronnie O’Sullivan has told Eurosport that going into the Priory for drug and alcohol treatment in 2000 was the “best thing” he has ever done, and that it was the moment his career truly started.
In a candid new episode of Eurosport’s new snooker vodcast, O’Sullivan discusses his life away from the table in depth with Andy Goldstein, covering the highs and lows of one of the great sporting careers.
From his sensational victory as a 17-year-old at the UK Championship in 1993, O’Sullivan has been a talent who has commanded intense attention. In an open discussion, the five-time world champion discusses how he could have won even more titles had his father not been imprisoned just weeks after that seminal victory over Stephen Hendry.
In 1998, he was also stripped of an Irish Masters title and forced to return his prize money after testing positive for cannabis following his win over Ken Doherty in the final.
O’Sullivan also discusses the “lightbulb moment” when he realised he needed to change his lifestyle, resulting in a rehab stint at the Priory – a decision which proved to be a major turning point on his road to sporting greatness. So much so that O’Sullivan considers it to be the moment his career truly started.
Addressing his private life in the 1990s, O’Sullivan tells Goldstein: “I was just partying a bit too much and like I said when I won that tournament (in 1993) I thought I’d made it. I’d come into a bit of money, I had a nice house, a nice car, I was single. So, I could do what I want when I liked really. I just probably chose the wrong company but it just got hold of me really. I took my eye off the ball. I wasn’t really focussed on snooker and I wasted probably five years of my career just messing about really.
“I think [the ‘lightbulb moment’ was] after I lost to Stephen Hendry in 1996, and I was quite overweight as well. I was eating and drinking quite a lot. I was looking at a picture of myself and it dawned on me, and I thought, ‘I need to get myself fit again’. So, I spent three months, I lost my driving licence, so I spent three months just going to the gym two or three times a day, eating really well and got myself in good shape for the next season. And then I managed to win four of five tournaments actually, which was great. But then I went back to drinking and partying again.
“So for the next two years I wasn’t as bad as I was before but I was still doing things that I shouldn’t have been doing. So, that’s why I decided that I had to go to The Priory. Basically, first thing in the morning I was getting up, having a drink, having a joint just to function through the day. Which never felt good because I thought ‘I don’t want to have to rely on this sort of stuff’ but it just a hold of me a bit too much and that’s when I decided to get help for it.
“I just rang up the drugs helpline and said, ‘I’ve got some problems and I need to get some help, I think I know what it is, and I’d like some help.’ She said fine, so she came round the house and spoke to me and within two hours of meeting her she had me in The Priory in Roehampton. That was probably the best thing I’ve ever done.
“I didn’t want to go, I was scared. I thought ‘I’m not an addict, I’m not an alcoholic, I’ve just got to learn to just control it a bit’. And when I went in there and they said it was complete abstinence it was like ‘What? There’s no way I’ll be able to do that.’ But, I managed to get clean and sober.
“I haven’t stayed clean and sober the whole time but I don’t go out and have one or two drinks, I have a glass every six months if it’s a birthday party or New Year’s Eve thing. Otherwise I’m teetotal really.”
O’Sullivan was asked by Goldstein if he looks back at that time and sees a ‘different person’, and said he has effectively wiped six years of his career as a result of his personal issues.
“I wouldn’t look at anything from 1994 up until where I came out The Priory. I just wouldn’t want to look at it because it’s such bad memories for me.
“Anything from coming out The Priory onwards I class as my career that was a proper career really where I was giving it 100%. I wasn’t always mentally in great shape because I struggled with performing badly. But I was still putting the work in, putting the practice in because if my game was alright I was one of the favourites to win any tournament.”
Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump react to possibility of World Championship behind closed doors
Phil HaighFriday 24 Apr 2020
Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump are both of the opinion that a World Championship without a crowd is better than no World Championship, but the event would certainly lose something with no fans in attendance at the Crucible.
The World Championship is set to run from 31 July-16 August, although there is nothing guaranteed on whether there will be a crowd in attendance at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.
There remains the possibility that the event could be held behind closed doors, with a reduced crowd, and an outside chance that a full house of around 1,000 would be allowed in South Yorkshire.
Five-time world champion O’Sullivan and reigning world champ Trump would obviously rather have fans in the room, but know that needs must during the coronavirus crisis.
Talking on Instagram with Stephen Hendry, O’Sullivan said: ‘I think as long as it’s safe…
[What if it’s 17-17 in the final frame?] ‘It would be mental wouldn’t it. That’s a terrible thought.
‘I watched the Gibraltar Open, the final when there was no one in the crowd and it was quite bizarre to watch it ‘
I suppose from a TV point of view, a lot of people sitting around just wanting to watch some live sport.
‘From that point of view, any type of World Championships would be better than no World Championships, really.’
Judd Trump won his first World Championship last year and will have been dearly looking forward to returning to the Crucible and being introduced to a packed crowd as the reigning champion.
It will be a disappointment for the world number one if the crowd can’t be there, but like O’Sullivan, he accepts that players need to get back to the table ASAP.
‘Obviously, I’d love to defend my title in front of a full crowd. And it’d be a bit disheartening having that taken away from me,’ Judd told the Sun.
‘But you’ve to look at the bigger picture here. As snooker players, we need to keep playing.
‘Maybe if there aren’t other sports going on, then snooker can become a global sport. People who maybe didn’t watch the sport before might tune in.
‘With football, you need 60-70 people to play a game. In snooker, maybe you need only four or five people.
‘The best-case scenario is a full crowd. But I cannot see things getting back to normal that fast.’
WST are very confident that the event will go ahead on 31 July although there remains the possibility that government guidelines could prevent this entirely.
More likely it will just be a question of crowd restrictions, which WST are flexible to and will make a decision on closer to the time, depending on how government advice changes.
Personally, I still doubt that holding the tournament end of July will be possible. I can’t see the qualifiers, involving a possible 128 players, being deemed safe as early as mid-July.
Yesterday’s “Crucible Gold” was about the 1985 Black Ball final. I have to say, I’m getting sick and tired of the constant rehashing about that final and how it finished.
The BBC, on the other hand, showed a really good and interesting “Crucible Classic”: the 1988 match between a 19 years old Stephen Hendry and Jimmy White. This was a high-quality match. Young Stephen lacked experience but his quality is there for all to see. As for Jimmy, watching this match, you really wonder how he has never won the World Championship, although, in a way, the answer is there for all to see as well. Unable or unwilling to curb his attacking instinct, ever in the crucial moments, and a certain vulnerability under pressure, although, there was no sign of the latter in this particular match deciding frame.
Today they are showing the 1992 final… same players, different story.