World champion Ronnie O’Sullivan has said that he believes snooker needs another “crank” like him to give the sport some much-needed pizzazz.
O’Sullivan blew away all before him – despite having had a 12-month break – to claim a fifth World Championship crown at the Crucible in Sheffield on Monday night. But the game’s biggest attraction, who pocketed £250,000 for his latest triumph, said: “If I left? The standard is great out there, looking at the way Barry [Hawkins] played against me in the final. But what you are lacking is someone that adds a bit of pizzazz. Every sport needs someone like your Alex Higgins or your Eric Cantona, a real character.
“Some players are trying to do it, but it’s not natural. I don’t try at all. I am a bit off-key at times but it is really me. I am like that and do my thing but people like that. A lot of people are trying to put on an act and people see through it and don’t buy it. You need another crank to come along.”
O’Sullivan was rarely troubled as he romped to an 18-12 victory over Hawkins. His hardest test of the 17-day tournament came in the semi-final against Judd Trump, one of the players tipped to dominate the sport over the next few years.
But the 23-year-old Trump who practises at the same Essex club as O’Sullivan, was taught a lesson by the eventual champion. At 37, O’Sullivan remains the player to beat, but his threats to quit the sport often infuriate many of his fellow professionals.
Whether he does quit or not, he believes it is time for someone else to pick up his mantle as snooker’s great entertainer. Asked if he considered himself an ambassador for the sport, he replied: “Ambassador? I think I have represented the sport over the last 17 days; it has been shown all round the world and I have shown I love the game.
“Hopefully I have entertained a few people, and if things were different I would go everywhere. But you get the drift: I am in and out of court [with his former girlfriend], and the better I do the more she wants. I will probably get home on Tuesday and have lawyers saying, ‘Right, we want this and we want that’: £50,000, £60,000– it’s like burning money.
“But if I hadn’t won I wouldn’t have that problem and it stresses me out; I could do without it. I need some breathing space – that’s why I took the year out.”