O’Sullivan reveals retirement plan and idea for ‘swansong around the world’


Ronnie O’Sullivan (Picture: Getty Images)

Ronnie O’Sullivan has set out his plan for retirement, saying he intends to play in three more World Championships and then head out on a global tour playing for his fans.

The Rocket made relatively short work of David Lilley in the first round of the English Open on Monday, setting up a second round clash with Michael Georgiou on Wednesday.

His thoughts were not really on the tournament after the win, though, looking years ahead rather than days as he contemplated hanging up his cue.

The six-time world champion feels detached from the sport, a decision he consciously made around seven years ago, but one that means he feels he is now nearing the end of his playing days.

‘Once you’re detached you’re detached,’ O’Sullivan told Metro.co.uk. ‘If you’re in it then every tournament’s a big tournament, I wanted to win everything years ago but now I’m totally detached.

‘I’m not interested in that, I just go out there and play. Treat it like a good holiday and enjoy myself everywhere I go.’

Asked whether he could reattach himself to the game at which he is considered the greatest of all time, O’Sullivan believes there is a way, but it is very unlikely and instead he has set out his path to retirement.

‘If the game took off in China and it got exciting and every tournament was a very, very good tournament then I’d be prepared to invest my time for the year and focus on being a very good snooker player,’ he said. ‘But I don’t see that happening.

‘So if I get another three World Championships, I’ve got a goal to keep me playing for at least another three World Championships.

‘Once that comes it might be a good time, I’ll be 49 then, it might be a good time to focus on other things I’ve got going on and just focus on them.

TV OUT. ALL BROADCAST WEBSITES OUT. No cropping permitted. Picture must be credited to BBC. We are advised that videograbs should not be used more than 48 hours after the time of original transmission, without the consent of the copyright holder. Video grab taken from BBC Two of Ronnie O'Sullivan lifting the Betfred World Snooker Championship trophy during day seventeen of the Betfred World Snooker Championship at The Crucible, Sheffield. PA Photo. Issue date: Sunday August 16, 2020, 2020. See PA story SNOOKER World. Photo credit should read: BBC Two/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: Not for use more than 21 days after issue. You may use this picture without charge only for the purpose of publicising or reporting on current BBC programming, personnel or other BBC output or activity within 21 days of issue. Any use after that time MUST be cleared through BBC Picture Publicity. Please credit the image to the BBC and any named photographer or independent programme maker, as described in the caption.

The Rocket won his sixth World Championship title in 2020 (Picture: PA)

‘While I’m able to just mess about with the game and get a few results then it’s alright. Listen, if I wasn’t getting any results I probably wouldn’t even play at all because I wouldn’t want to embarrass myself or get to the point I was that bad that people say, “what’s he doing still playing?”’

The 45-year-old is not just thinking about the last few years of his competitive snooker, but intends to put on a show beyond that, plotting a global extravaganza, lasting at least two years.

‘At the end of the day, once I do finish playing I’ll probably do a two or three year swansong going round the world,’ he explained. ‘Just playing snooker for the fans as a testimonial, I’d enjoy that.

‘I do enjoy playing it’s just when you’re at a tournament you’ve got to be prepared to hurt out there and I don’t want to hurt, I’m not invested in it enough to want to go through that. I’m in a good place, that’s important as well.’

O’Sullivan seems content with his career winding towards an end (Picture: Getty Images)

O’Sullivan’s believes that his desire to genuinely compete with the other top players in the world has ebbed away, and while he can still play to an exceptional standard, he will not be expelling any pints of blood over it.

‘My heart’s gone out of it,’ he said. ‘Even me turning up and slinging me cue at  a few balls, I’m still good enough to be a top eight player.

‘That’s me just playing outrageous exhibition snooker. I’m not prepared to do a [Mark] Selby and grind it out. I don’t care that much. There isn’t a player in the world that I’d want to be, for all the effort they put in for what they get out, I just think, “you can keep that one mate.”’

Such has his passion been drained, that the 37-time ranking event winner is treating snooker more like a job than he ever has, motivated as much to rustle up commercial deals as he is to win more silverware.

‘I’m really not that bothered,’ he said. ‘I just go out there and treat it like an exhibition match, hit a few balls and it serves a purpose, it’s okay, it’s alright.

Betfred World Snooker Championship - Day Seven

O’Sullivan claims to get no enjoyment from the game anymore (Picture: Getty Images)

‘My agent said to me it’s a lot easier to do commercial deals for me while I’m playing snooker so I’ve got to show up and play, but I’m very, very detached from it.

‘As long as I play alright now and again and for an old bloke put in a few decent performances and do myself half justice, that’s all I need to do.

‘There’s nothing left to prove and there’s nothing left in snooker that excites me. The hunger and desire has gone. Seven or eight years ago I decided that snooker wasn’t something I wanted to fully embrace but I had to at least try and work for me and treat it like a job.

‘I don’t get upset if I lose, I don’t get too excited if I win either. I’m not prepared to break my balls. If it’s going well great, if it’s not then an early bath is not too bad either.’

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