Raymond van Barneveld believes he ‘can go all the way’ at World Championship

The 56-year-old is marking the 25th anniversary of his first world title.

Jonathan Veal
Wednesday 13 December 2023 11:59 GMT
Raymond van Barneveld is ready to win another world title (Zac Goodwin/PA)
Raymond van Barneveld is ready to win another world title (Zac Goodwin/PA) (PA Archive)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

Raymond van Barneveld is dreaming of winning another World Championship crown 25 years after his historic first.

He became the first Dutchman to win the British Darts Organisation (BDO) title at the Lakeside in 1998 and went on to win three more before switching to the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC), where he won another in 2007.

He was at the top of the game for several years before announcing a short-lived retirement in 2019.

The 56-year-old is back on the scene and preparing for another tilt at world glory over the next few weeks, with the World Championship getting under way at Alexandra Palace on Friday.

Reflecting on his title in 1998, Van Barneveld, who has released some commemorative darts to mark the anniversary, told the PA news agency: “It really went fast. Madness, 25 years ago, it goes quickly.

“After that my whole life changed, I went from being a postman to being a celebrity in Holland, being on every talk show, I flew in an F16, and tulip roses were named after me, it was insane.

“In all honesty, 1998 was more special because what it did to me as a person and what it did for darts in Holland. Because of that result I could quit my job as a postman and become a full-time player.”

Following years of success in the BDO, Van Barneveld followed the money to the PDC and struck up one of sport’s greatest rivalries when he regularly competed against Phil Taylor.

And ‘Barney’ enjoyed some early success, winning the 2007 crown against his great competitor.

“I won so many things in the BDO, I didn’t want to be 85 years old and looking back on my career and be scared to play the best darts player ever on earth,” he said of his decision to switch to the PDC.

“I needed to live with myself and look back on my career and say I had the balls to play him, which I did. I did and you saw what happened, I beat him and it was a dream come true.”

If Van Barneveld were to win the title this year, it would be one of the biggest sporting shocks of recent times, with the likes of Michael van Gerwen, Michael Smith, Gerwyn Price and Luke Humphries playing at a different standard.

But the Dutchman believes he still has it in him.

“This is what it is all about. In all fairness, the rest of the year is nothing in comparison,” he said. “This is the world title. It means you are the man.

“I believe I can still win, absolutely. But you have to be realistic, there are better players out there at the moment. I am older, I am not a young pup who wants to win everything.

“The worlds is special for me, I believe it. All the other players know what they can do and if they draw Raymond van Barneveld then I am pretty sure they are not happy. They know if I show up I can go all the way.

“The World Championship is something else. You can win other titles, but this is so special. You are the world champion, everyone else looks up to you.”

:: Special Edition Barney25 darts to commemorate the 25-year anniversary of RVB’s first World Championship are available to buy now at www.target-darts.co.uk

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