Darts: Taylor names Van Gerwen as successor to his crown

Multiple champion calls talented 23-year-old 'a freak' and faces tough battle in tonight's final

Michael van Gerwen is unfazed about facing 15-time world champion Phil Taylor in tonight's World Darts Championship final at Alexandra Palace, with the prodigiously talented 23-year-old saying he barely knew who Taylor was when they first met seven years ago. They are well aware of each other now, though, with Taylor already anointing Van Gerwen as his successor as the game's next great player.

"I knew nothing at all about him," Van Gerwen said, looking back on his first meeting with Taylor when he was 16. "I only knew that he was, at that time, 14- or 13-times world champion."

Taylor's status within the game seems to mean less to Van Gerwen than it does to others, and the Dutchman admitted that when he was not playing he had little interest in how other players were doing.

"I don't like watching darts," Van Gerwen said. "Even now. Sometimes you have a nice game – like Phil Taylor is on against Raymond [van Barneveld] I will love to see that game, but most of the games I don't watch. I'm not bothered."

So Van Gerwen does not do deference. "I have been on the circuit now for around seven years, I have played them all a lot," he said of the game's biggest names. "So I am not bothered to play any big player. If you want to win the games, during the game you cannot have respect for anyone. Because then you won't win. You need to play your own game and just do what you want."

Van Gerwen is a very instinctive player, with a fast style that would look careless were it not so successful. "Everyone plays his own style," he insisted. "Otherwise you cannot throw. It is just natural. I just play my own game."

Taylor, who admitted yesterday he was "ashamed" of his behaviour at the end of Sunday's semi-final with Van Barneveld when he pushed the Dutchman in the chest before storming off, was 28 years old and established in the BDO when Van Gerwen was born. Even in his long career, he said had never seen anyone as good as the young man from Boxtel.

"He's brilliant," said Taylor. "I think he's playing the best darts I've ever seen anybody ever play in my career. I've seen Dennis Priestley at his best, which he could match Michael, and I've seen myself, but at the minute he's phenomenal.

"I wouldn't say he's a freak, but he's a Jonah Lomu. He's brilliant and it's going to take every little ounce of energy and concentration. He's the next one, without a shadow of a doubt."

On Sunday, Taylor and Van Barneveld appeared to exchange angry words after shaking hands at the end of "The Power's" 6-4 win, but Taylor insisted soon afterwards that the matter was forgotten.

"I'm disappointed with my behaviour," he said. "Raymond's a big lad and he has a strong handshake, and when he pulled me he it hurt me. I reacted wrongly and I'm ashamed of that because I really like Raymond,

"Nothing went on. None of us wanted to lose that. He was brilliant. He stuck in there. I said to Raymond backstage, 'There's nobody in this room who's a bigger fan of you than I am'. We're not going to fall out about anything. It's forgotten. It's done."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
tv
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Teaching Assistant in secondary school Manchester

£11280 - £14400 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Teaching a...

Primary teaching roles in Ipswich

£21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education re...

Science teachers needed in Norwich

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Science teachers requ...

Semi Senior Accountant - Music

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful, Central London bas...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits