Ronnie’s interview with Betway

Ronnie was interviewed by Betway, the 2019 UK Championship sponsor ahead of the competition. They shared this interview with David Caulfield, a prominent and well respected snooker blogger and David, very kindly, allowed me to reproduce his article on this blog.

Thank you David.

So here it is:

Ronnie O’Sullivan: Snooker’s Roger Federer

The Rocket reveals the secrets to becoming snooker’s most prolific major winner, and discusses being compared to Roger Federer and Tiger Woods.

Roger Federer
O’Sullivan is bidding for a record 37th ranking title in York. Photo credit: World Snooker

Three decades and six dozen titles into his professional career, there will be one thing motivating Ronnie O’Sullivan when he pitches up at the York Barbican to defend the Betway UK Championship title.

“Coffee,” O’Sullivan says. “There are some lovely coffee bars up there, there are a couple of fantastic restaurants.”

O’Sullivan is smirking as he says this, but the inference is clear: simply turning up isn’t enough for him anymore. There has to be something more to get him going.

Take winning last year’s UK Championship, which he celebrated with far more gusto than usual, standing on the barriers surrounding the table and lifting the trophy aloft before pouring a bottle of water over his head.

“I was being riled up by the crowd,” says O’Sullivan, who is the second-favourite to defend his title in 2020.

“Obviously, it was an important match and sometimes your emotions overspill.

“I took quite a bit of stick during the game, which I thought was a bit uncalled for. It became more emotional for me than usual.

“I just thought: ‘Two fingers up to you. You’re going to have to watch me celebrate 19 major titles.’”

By winning his 19th Triple Crown event – five World Championships, seven UK Championships and a record seven Masters titles – O’Sullivan became the most prolific major winner in snooker history, beating Stephen Hendry’s tally of 18.

The record reaffirms what several people already believed, that O’Sullivan is the sport’s greatest ever player.

In a recent Instagram post, the Rocket declared breaking Hendry’s record as “one of my proudest moments as a snooker player…a huge achievement”, apparently discovering a level of satisfaction that generally eludes him.

“It’s the consistency,” O’Sullivan says. “Anything that relates to consistency is pretty cool, and it was done over a long period of time.

“I’ve won a lot of major tournaments with a lot of pressure involved. I think it’s got to be up there with one of the best achievements that anyone can achieve in any sport.”

Reaching the top of your game inevitably results in cross-sport comparisons.

Neil Robertson referred to O’Sullivan as the “Roger Federer of the snooker table, and probably even better than that” in March, a comment that O’Sullivan admitted he was flattered by.

“The best way to be able to judge how your career’s gone is by comparing it to others,” he says.

“I look at Federer and Tiger Woods going for their majors in tennis and golf. They have four majors a year, whereas we have three, but I’ve been going a bit longer, which I suppose makes my record not look so good. I haven’t done the maths.”

Those who have, however, will see that although O’Sullivan has been going longer, his record in majors stands up next to the CV of both Roger Federer and Tiger Woods.

The Rocket has triumphed in 25 per cent of the Triple Crown events he has competed in, winning 19 of 76. Federer pips that record, winning 25.6 per cent of his majors so far, while Woods has won 17.9 per cent of his.

O’Sullivan was comfortably the youngest major winner, too – winning the UK Championship at just 17 – whereas Federer and Woods were 22 and 21 respectively.

It’s not hard to see why he has kept pace with such phenomena. The sportspeople he admires most are perfectionists, obsessed with winning, and combine it ruthlessly with their genius talent.

Consequently, O’Sullivan has become more impatient with mediocrity.

“Because I’ve played sport, I look at lesser players in other sports and just see them as the equivalent of someone down the rankings in snooker,” he says.

“I just think: ‘I ain’t got time to watch people like that.’ I want to watch someone who’s doing the business.

“I wouldn’t watch tennis unless it’s Federer, Djokovic or Nadal. I wouldn’t watch football unless Messi’s playing and I wouldn’t watch golf unless it’s Tiger Woods. I switch over to something else.”

Where O’Sullivan doesn’t compare is prize money. His career earnings from snooker sit at £10.9m – a remarkable sum, but one that is dwarfed by Federer’s £103.5m and Woods’ £118.7m.

“Tennis, golf, F1 and football are global sports,” says O’Sullivan. “I’m not stupid, they look totally glamorous.

“Snooker’s appeal is not as great. I get it, but you make the best of what you can do.”

The emergence of Judd Trump as a serial winner should boost snooker’s profile, with O’Sullivan now facing a genuine rival in terms of winning trophies and doing so with panache.

Trump wrestled the Masters title off him last January, beating him in the final, before winning the World Championship in May.

But O’Sullivan says it is too early to judge whether Trump can challenge him for the crown of snooker’s GOAT.

“We’re best off having this conversation in ten years,” he says.

“To be an all-time great you’ve got to do it over 10 to 12 to 15 years. He’s had one good season, and great sportsmen do it for far longer than that.

“He’s a fantastic player and a fantastic talent, but talent will only take you so far. There are a few more ingredients involved.”

For all of his nonchalance, O’Sullivan thinks and speaks like a champion.

After 27 years of walking the walk, it is fair to say he belongs in the company of Roger Federer, Tiger Woods, and other all-time sporting legends when it comes to being one, too.

Ronnie was speaking with Betway ahead of the 2019 Betway UK Championship in York.

This is a nice interview, positive and rather well balanced.

If you don’t already, please follow David’s blog, SnookerHQ.

 

An interesting interview with Ronnie ahead of the 2019 English Open

Big thanks to Bernd Wütherish who pointed this interview to me! It’s very interesting indeed. I never heard about the total clearance podcasts before but, although my knowledge of the German language is very limited, I intend to try to follow their work.

here is the interview:

So Ronnie seems to be set to play at the UK Championship, which is good news.

I’m a bit surprised about his reluctance regarding the Masters. Usually he seemed to love this one because he had just to pitch and play. But it is true that over the years more and more “celebrities” came along , claiming frienship with him, to try and get (free) access to the tournament and the players room. It’s both a distraction and a burden. It’s sometimes difficult to say no.

He skilfully swerved the question about the World…

He also seems to be prepared to play some qualifiers, if needed, to go to Chinese events. That’s a change of mindset.

His criteria for “greatness” are quite “demanding” … and he names John Higgins amongst the greats although he doesn’t meet those criteria. 😉 But I agree with him, Judd Trump still has everything to prove, and Mark Selby’s dominance lasted four years and he was truly dominant during that period. However Neil Robertson has more ranking tittles than Mark Selby and nobody puts him in that “greatest” bracket. Whatever … it’s a pub debate, and comparing eras is always perilous and generally not meaningful.

And he wasn’t aware of the Home Series dress code… 😁

 

An interview with Luo Honghao about playing Ronnie, getting to the Crucible, untimely bout of allergy and more.

http://www.worldsnooker.com/luo-playing-osullivan-was-unforgettable/

Chinese ace Luo Honghao is looking forward to returning to Crawley for next week’s 19.com English Open, having reached the quarter-finals last year.

Luo, 19, enjoyed a promising debut season on the pro tour in 2018/19, highlighted by his fine run in Sussex as well as a first appearance at the Crucible.

At K2 Crawley he beat four players including Anthony McGill and Neil Robertson, then pushed Ronnie O’Sullivan hard in the quarter-finals. Luo led the Rocket 3-2 but eventually lost 5-3.

“My dream as a young child came true, to play against O’Sullivan at a venue,” said Luo. “There were so many spectators watching me play. It’s an unforgettable memory and I wish to experience more of the same.

“Ronnie is a nice person. We added each other on WeChat and talked a lot. I sent him clips of myself playing piano. What I need to learn from him is his perseverance and determination. He used to run 10km a day and practise for ten hours without touching his phone. You have to say ‘no’ to socialising and dedicate yourself to the game – I don’t think many players can really do that.”

Luo went on to qualify for the final stages of the World Championship in April. His Crucible experience was one to forget as he lost 10-0 to Shaun Murphy –  becoming only the second player to be whitewashed at the Sheffield venue – though there were mitigating circumstances.

“After the qualifiers finished, Lu Ning treated everyone a big sea food dinner and I had a lot,” Luo explained. “I wasn’t aware that I was allergic to some of the food, so I got a high fever that night. I wasn’t able to pot a ball the next day.

“I was hoping that Shaun Murphy wouldn’t be at his best so I could have some chances, but he made a lot of breaks. To lose 10-0 was a disaster but I can’t say I could have done better. You can’t give up because of one heavy defeat. Even players like Mark Selby have lost bad matches and they are so much better than me.”

Luo has made a strong start to his second pro season, notably reaching the quarter-finals of the Kasperksy Riga Maters, and is determined to improve the areas he perceives as his weaknesses.

“I don’t think there are problems with my technique, the issue is about psychology,” said the world number 69. “I often don’t start matches well. I find the first match in a tournament the most difficult one. And if I win the first frame in a match, I settle down immediately.

“By competing with the top players you learn fast, your technique and strategy will improve. I’d like to think my scoring is as good as most players but I need a stronger tactical game. The champions have a better mindset going into matches because they have experienced everything and there’s not much to prove, so they might be able to enjoy it a bit more. The results don’t bother me too much but I want to perform to my ability.”

An accomplished pianist, Luo is nicknamed The Virtuoso. “I love snooker and I love music too,” he added. “I once considered playing music professionally. If I could enjoy a successful snooker career, winning lots of titles, I might as well juggle it with a bit of music.”

Luo plays Sam Craigie in the first round of the 19.com English Open in Crawley. The event runs from October 14-20 and features kings of the baize including O’Sullivan, Judd Trump, Mark Selby, Mark Williams, Neil Robertson and Shaun Murphy. Tickets are still available and start at just £10 – for details click here. 

Lovely really, and once again showing a side of Ronnie that the ones who don’t like him choose to ignore. Very unfortunate for the young man what happened at the Crucible. He will be back, I’m sure.

 

An interview with Laila Rouass

Laila Rouass was interviewed by Lebby Eyres 

Ronnie O’Sullivan beating his demons thanks to Holby City star fiancée Laila Rouass

Ronnie&Laila

Rocket Ronnie O’Sullivan is beating his demons on and off the snooker table thanks to his secret weapon – fiancée Laila Rouass.

The five-time world champ is widely ­regarded as an all-time great of the sport but has been plagued by nerves.

But now the former badboy of snooker just needs to see his girlfriend rooting for him in the audience and his anxiety disappears.

And the ex Holby City and Footballer’s Wives star has also given him a big break from his ­erratic private life, characterised by weekly booze and drugs benders.

The proof of the duo’s success came earlier this month when Ronnie, 43, won the Shanghai Masters for the third year on the trot.

Ronnie even tried a romantic gesture when Laila touched down in the Chinese city but, unlike his game, this did not go to plan.

Modest Laila, 48, is not taking all the credit for changing Ronnie from a party animal who loved wild nights out to a more settled man who likes quiet evenings in with a glass of wine.

The couple, who had just been through break ups, met when Laila went to view his house. She did not know who he was.

But after being shy on their first date things moved quickly and they moved in together three months later. They have been engaged since 2012.

Laila said: “When I met him he was ­changing already. I’ve maybe centred him more.

“I’m a grounded person and Ronnie is so emotional, he wears his heart on his sleeve. I calmed him down in that way.”

Ronnie, nicknamed The Rocket, used to enjoy nights out with Oasis star Liam Gallagher and once spent a month in rehab to battle his drink and drug addiction.

He rarely drinks now – preferring to spend his time at the gym or cooking at home.

Laila said: “His partying days were over when we got together. He doesn’t drink at all really, he might have a glass of red wine once every couple of weeks but nothing regular.

Although Laila had mixed feelings about Ronnie’s Shanghai surprise when he presented her with a bunch of flowers at the airport.

Mum-of-one Laila laughed: “I wanted to kill him. I’d just come off a 12-hour flight, I looked like absolute s***, and there’s a bloody phone in my face and flowers shoved in my hand and I just thought WTF is going on?

“His friend was filming it. I don’t even want to look at it online, I was so embarrassed. I think it was more his friend’s idea than Ronnie’s. He’s ­really considerate – but I wouldn’t call him romantic.”

Ronnie explained about the very public display of affection: “I’m not the most ­romantic person in the world but I do my best. It’s one of my weak areas. I’m working on it though.”

Ronnie’s fast attacking style and incredible talent has turned him into a superstar and means he is away for about four months of the year. The rest of the time he likes being home with Laila.

“I’ve calmed him down in terms of ­anxiousness. It was nice to be with him in China I think he appreciated it.”

They have no plans to marry in the near future although Laila thinks they “will at some point”.

Laila, who has a north African background and six siblings, said her mum would invite ­everyone. She said: “I’d have to really gear myself up for a wedding. At the moment we’ve put it on the back burner and we’re enjoying our time so there’s no rush.

“It becomes a bit more important as you get older for legal reasons but for now we’re OK.” Dad-of-three Ronnie said: “If something’s not broke, why fix it? If it’s working why change a winning formula?”

One thing they have ruled out is a snooker -themed wedding. “That’d be tacky, I’d walk out,” laughed Laila.

While Ronnie travels the world Laila is working hard on a business venture.

Inspired by her glam role as Amber Gates in hit ITV series Footballers’ Wives, Laila has started a competition-based website where customers have the chance to win designer bags and shoes.

She said: “I love bags and shoes and that grew from doing shows like Footballers’ Wives where I was surrounded by them.

“I just really resent having to pay £2,000 or £1,500 for a handbag, or £600 for a pair of Louboutins. In this day and age, who has got that kind of money? The site is called bagmyshoes.com and it’s almost like a raffle.

“Tickets are £5.50 for brand new bag or £3.50 for the shoes, and there’s a skill-based question you have to answer.

“It’s taken me nearly a year to put it ­together – I want it to be a success. I really believe in it, I’ve invested my own money and I’m doing it alone.”

But fans of the actress, who played ­surgical registrar Sahira Shah for a year in Holby City, may see her on TV again.

She left Holby because she was missing out on daughter Inez’s schooling.

But the 12-year-old is now at boarding school and Laila would consider doing a soap or a series again.

In the past Ronnie, who became a grandad in October 2018 after eldest daughter Taylor-Ann had her first child, has been prescribed antidepressants for depression and anxiety.

Before the 2001 Snooker World Championships in Sheffield, which he won, a radio interview with him had to be cut short following a series of panic attacks.

But Laila believes he’s got to grips with his demons. She said: “Ronnie is very open and that’s a blessing.

“Occasionally he retreats into himself and you have to give him that time and he’ll find his way back. He recognises that feeling now. He’s got a lot of support.

“When you’ve got anxiety and ­depression you feel isolated as it is. It’s hard watching someone you love go through that. He’s spoken to some of the best people in the world about it so I think he’s got a good grip of it.”

The pair will be tuning in to Strictly Come Dancing , to see how Anton Du Beke, Laila’s pro partner from 2009, gets on.

She said: “I’m rooting for Anton with Emma Barton. He was my dance partner and poor guy, he hasn’t had much luck. Coming fourth with me that year was the closest he’s come to the final since we danced together.”

But the Strictly curse means Ronnie, awarded an OBE in 2016, will not follow in her footsteps.

She said: “In my year there was a couple and you thought, ‘we know something’s going on’ but when you’re with someone for six or seven days a week and you’re that close to them, it’s not surprising.

“I would not be happy if Ronnie said he was going to do Strictly!”…

Here is the offending video…

 

Don’t tell me the score revisited …

When Ronnie’s interview on don’t tell me the score. came out because of the BBC putting the focus on one sentence taken out of context, there were a lot of negative reactions from people who had clearly not listened to the interview.

Now, a few weeks later, Phil Haigh, writing for metro.uk, has extract some key elements of this interview in three separate articles.

Ronnie O’Sullivan opens up about how anxiety has affected his snooker career

Ronnie O’Sullivan is arguably the most naturally gifted snooker player in history, but that does not mean everything comes easy to him on the baize. The Rocket has battled various mental health struggles over his lengthy career, from what he labels as ‘snooker depression’ to a range of addictions. The 43-year-old has also had to fight serious anxiety which comes to the fore when he is playing tournaments, specifically when he is away from home a lot, which has led to his significantly reduced schedule in recent years.

For someone who many consider the best player of all time, it is hard to comprehend that he would have serious doubts about his own ability, but that is exactly what the five-time world champion has had to deal with while trying to perform in front of big crowds. ‘I likened it a little bit like when people go on stage and before they go out they freeze, because it’s all about the performance, and that’s exactly what it was like me with snooker,’ O’Sullivan told BBC’s Don’t Tell Me The Score podcast.

I could do brilliant performances but it was always about the next one, am I going to fall apart? Am I not going to be able to pot a ball? Am I going to embarrass myself out there? Are people going to start laughing at me and think I’m a fraud? I had all that going on.

‘If I don’t compete and don’t put myself in that situation with snooker that fear and anxiety disappeared.’ Simply not playing was not a realistic option for the Rocket, so he took steps to manage his anxiety that have allowed him to compete at the highest level and remain world number one at 43-years-old.

A big part of this career management has been competing in just a handful of tournaments per season in recent years, but also working with psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters. ‘Even though I’ve worked with Steve Peters and it’s helped me a lot, I still get moments,’ continued O’Sullivan. ‘It’s nowhere near as bad as it was but I still get moments when I really do doubt myself.

‘I think you’ve just got to manage it and I’ve realised since 2005 that I have to see it coming. I do a diary so I can look back on it and think ,”What did I do here?”

‘I hit a little bad period here, because I took too much on. Sometimes I don’t spend enough time at home cooking for myself, looking after myself, spending time with my partner, seeing my children.

‘Once I’ve done all those things it builds up a shield and I’m ready to now go into that two week battle and do some graft and win this tournament and compete against the best snooker players in the world.

‘If I try and do four or five weeks competing with the best in the world from hotel room to hotel room, country to country I start to neglect myself and start to question what it’s all about. This isn’t really making me happy, I might have won a couple of tournaments but really I just can’t wait to get home.

‘I’m like a racehorse, if you race him every day at some point he’s going to come last.’ O’Sullivan has not played since going out in the first round of the 2019 World Championship to James Cahill, but is expected to return to the table at the Shanghai Masters in September.

Ronnie O’Sullivan explains how rejecting Western philosophy has helped him battle addiction

Ronnie O’Sullivan has become one of the deep-thinkers, not only of snooker, but of British sport.

The world number one has gone through struggles on and off the table during his hugely successful career and has come up with various ways to overcome them.

The Rocket admits that he has had to battle his own addictive personality over the years, and continues to try and avoid temptations, which he believes are ingrained in Western philosophy.

‘I went through a lot of denial in the early stages, thinking I didn’t have an addiction problem,’ O’Sullivan told BBC’s Don’t Tell Me The Score podcast. ‘I’d get a month of training and eating well practicing, and I’d play a tournament and do really well and then the next two or three months I’d binge on food and drink and going to nightclubs. It was never me, but it was my addictive side.

‘I could never have one meal or one night out and get back to training the next day, I kept falling off the wagon.

‘It wasn’t until I started looking at addiction and how it’s not just about food, it can be about women, relationships, gambling, spending, working too hard. It covers so many different areas.’

O’Sullivan has now accepted the problem and learned to manage it, focusing his addictive personality on positive outlets like running.

The 43-year-old believes that addiction has become difficult to avoid in modern Western society and points at the contrast between boxing rivals Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather as an example to illustrate his point. ‘The Western world has become a world of addiction in many ways, we’ve forgotten what it’s like to sit down as a community and just do things together and do things together, support each other,

’ Ronnie continued. ‘We live a hectic, fast-paced life and everyone’s trying to get on top of each other, climb that ladder and do what they do. ‘I go to Thailand and it’s not like that, they have a different way to measure success.

‘You look at Manny Pacquiao and he wants to feed his village, it’s all about taking back to the Philippines and I think that’s a much better way to share your success.

Ronnie O’Sullivan explains how he stopped snooker success costing him relationships

Ronnie O’Sullivan has always had a difficult relationship with snooker and part of that is down to how the game has impacted his relationships off the table.

The five-time world champion has found a work-life balance that suits him now, but there have been times in his career at which snooker has taken over to an unhealthy level.

The Rocket has been developing how to manage his game on and off the table over a career that dates back to 1992 and has learned to put more importance on the things that matter away from winning titles. ‘

When I play snooker I go into a tunnel vision type of world. I don’t know I’m doing it but I block out everything and everyone around me,’ O’Sullivan told BBC’s Don’t Tell Me The Score podcast.

‘The people that care about me don’t get the best out of me, they take it for so long and eventually they go, “well I’m not putting up with this,” and you think, what have I done? ‘I’m out there grafting, I’m trying to be the best I can be, I’m pursuing my career, but they’re not getting their wants and needs.

‘So I want a balance in life. Snooker, winning titles is great, but if that’s all life is, if all my life is built on is being a success then at some point that’s going to go and what am I left with?

‘I think human relationships are very important, and probably more important than anything you’ll ever do because we need to interact with people. The healthier the relationships you have, the better your life will be.

‘So I have to draw in sometimes and think I have been a bit selfish. I have neglected certain things, and then when I reproach things, things get better again.’

‘When I’ve got in that tunnel vision I’ve probably trampled on so many people, not in a horrible way, but just in my pursuit to be the best. ‘You have to make tough decisions, and when I look back on them they were ruthless decisions, and I don’t class myself as a ruthless person.’

If you find it difficult to listen to the full interview, for whatever reason, those articles at least will give you a correct feedback on some important aspects of it. Unlike the very misleading title and introductory text that the BBC chose when the interview was initially published.