Ronnie O’Sullivan: Snooker’s younger generation needed a ‘kick up the a***’

Reigning world champion provoked controversy when he claimed that snooker’s younger players ‘are not that good’

Tom Kershaw
Tuesday 01 September 2020 11:56
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Ronnie O'Sullivan eases past Kyren Wilson to win sixth World Snooker Championship

Ronnie O’Sullivan insists he wasn’t trying to offend snooker’s younger generation but give them a “kick up the a***” when he claimed they “are not very good” during last month’s World Championships.

O’Sullivan clinched his sixth title at the Crucible, becoming the tournament’s second-oldest winner at 44, and stirred controversy en route to victory when he claimed: “If you look at the younger players coming through, they are not that good really. Most of them would do well as half-decent amateurs, not even amateurs. They are so bad.”

However, speaking on The Blank Podcast, O’Sullivan said his comments had been overblown and were in fact an attempt to “inspire” the younger players and provoke them to “prove him wrong”.

“They’re not good enough...whatever I said. I think it’s okay to say stuff like that, I wasn’t slagging anyone off,” he said. “In fact, I was hoping that in some ways it would inspire a lot of the younger generation to kind of go ‘you know what I’m going to prove him wrong’. Because that’s all I’ve done all my life when I was a kid growing up, I’d get knocks and every time I got a knock that just made me more and more determined to what to become better and a better player so for me a knock was fantastic.

“So yeah, I’m knocking them, but I’m also hoping that it gives them a nudge to go you know what I’m going to go and watch a Tiger Woods documentary, I’m going to go and watch a Michael Jordan documentary and see what it takes to be the best and then once I’ve studied them I’m going to take that into my world and I’m going to become the next snooker player I can possibly be. And that’s what I’m saying.”

O’Sullivan singled out Kyren Wilson - who he thrashed 18-8 in the final in Sheffield - for praise but admitted he believes the calibre and quantity of players coming into the game are still in decline.

“Every player on this tour is capable of beating anyone on their day but it’s not good enough to just have a good day, you’ve got to have good months, good years, good decades,” he continued. “We’re not talking about being good enough on the day, we’re talking about having a good career really and days aren’t enough. You have to have good months and years to hang around long enough and that’s what I’m hoping by saying what I said in a way is going to give these youngsters a kick up the a***.

“There are a couple on the circuit; Kyren Wilson is definitely one of them and another guy is Louis Heathcote, I spot that they have what it takes to hang around and get the most out of their career. I just wish there was more players like me, John Higgins, Mark Williams, Steven Maguire, Barry Hawkins that generation of players, I just wish there was an influx of those players coming in but I just don’t see it.”

Listen to the full interview with Ronnie O’Sullivan on The Blank Podcast here.

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