RONNIE O’SULLIVAN thinks he lost nine years of his career because he was partying too hard and was not mentally ready to win trophies.
Many snooker fans consider the Rocket – five-time world champion – to be the greatest player in the sport.
Yet there are well-documented points where he has struggled with depression, alcohol and drug abuse.
Despite his many records, currently pursuing the counting of seven world titles from Stephen Hendry, O’Sullivan thinks he could have done better.
Asked by Eurosport presenter Andy Goldstein for his “biggest snooker regret”, O’Sullivan replied: “Maybe between 1995 and 2000 when I don’t think I spent my time properly snooker. I may have wasted some time there.
“And again between 2005 and 2007, I don’t think I won a ranking tournament for 32 months. And again 2009 to 2011.
“So maybe I had nine years after a 27-year playing career where I was not mentally ready. “
A 17-year-old O’Sullivan managed to win the 1993 British Championship and the 1995 Masters.
However, he had to wait several years before winning a first world title in 2001 – on his ninth attempt.
When asked why the wait was so long, he replied, “I was having a lot of partying.
“The snooker season was from September to May and the World Championships were the last tournament of the year.
So maybe I had nine years after a 27-year playing career where I was not mentally ready.
“If I had a bad session, I felt the sooner it was over, the sooner I could have fun with my friends.
“When it came out, it was the most incredible feeling.
“If you win it once, it doesn’t matter if you don’t win it again because you have your name on the trophy.
“The monkey on the back is huge, it lets you go play and then it’s just a matter of accumulating as many titles as possible. “
The sport’s elite was slated to be in Sheffield this weekend for the 2020 World Snooker Championship.
But the Crucible event has been postponed until summer due to the current coronavirus crisis.
With no live action, O’Sullivan, 44, met Eurosport to record a new series of billiard “vodcasts”, discussing his career ups and downs.
He says his three favorite successes were the 2012 and 2013 world crowns and the 2014 Masters.
O’Sullivan, who used only four or five professional benchmarks, added that his best game was the 2003 European Open triumph over Hendry.
He added, “We were both playing very well, I beat him 9-6 and I beat the highest break three times.
“I had four or five centuries. He had three or four. It was billiards in one visit throughout the game. “
O’Sullivan admits there were “three 146 that could have been maximums” mainly because he was unhappy with the modest price available for an authorization of 147.
Of his 15 maximums, the most famous was the 1997 Worlds against Mick Price in a record time of 5 min 8 s.
O’Sullivan said, “I was much younger and much faster then. I certainly wouldn’t be able to do it now, but I guess it’s one of those fantastic snooker moments. “
Ronnie says he had “a lot of problems with his family” when he gave up 4-1 against Hendry in the quarterfinals of the 2006 UK Championship.
O’Sullivan was fined more than £ 20,000 but said, “I had to go, I was not at all witty.
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“Even a few games before that, I wanted to shake hands with the guy and get out. There was a lot going on in my head that was really disturbing.
“I thought I wouldn’t win this game, I don’t feel it and I don’t want to be here, so I shook his hand and left. There are times when I didn’t like billiards, but I would never do it again. “
One of the funniest incidents occurred when the first snooker player interrupted the 1997 Masters final.
O’Sullivan laughed, “It was pretty weird, I was sitting across from her and I saw her take her clothes and think about what she was doing over there?
“Then she rushed over and did a few rounds. I think she was waiting for someone to come and catch her, but no one would. So I think she felt a little silly. But it was very funny. ”
Watch The Snooker Vodcast every day at 2 p.m. on Eurosport and Eurosport Player.