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No X-Factor in new kids: O'Sullivan


Ronnie O'Sullivan and his son Ronnie jr after last year's win at the Crucible

Ronnie O'Sullivan and his son Ronnie jr after last year's win at the Crucible

Ronnie O'Sullivan and his son Ronnie jr after last year's win at the Crucible

RONNIE O'SULLIVAN claims snooker's new generation are suffering from a personality crisis.

The five-time world champion, who triumphed in fine style to retain his title, will play on into next season and looks increasingly likely to be back in Sheffield come April time.

And he believes there is nobody in the sport ready to take over from him as the charismatic figurehead.

O'Sullivan defeated former office clerk Barry Hawkins 18-12 in a high-quality Betfair World Championship final to move one behind Steve Davis and two off Stephen Hendry's record of seven titles at the Crucible.

He fired six centuries in the match, a new record for a world final, and despite taking almost all of the season off leading into the tournament he was able to carry off the trophy.

There is a sense that the current crop of snooker stars cannot keep up with the 37-year-old on the baize, but O'Sullivan believes what the sport really needs is a new band of natural entertainers.

"The standard's great," he said. "Look at the way Barry played in the final. But what you are lacking is someone who adds a bit of pizzazz.

"I think every sport needs someone like Alex Higgins or Eric Cantona, it's about the characters.

"They're all nice guys and all good boys, but it needs someone to get in there. Some of them are trying to do it but it's just not natural. You need someone like me who just comes out and does my thing.

"I'm a bit off-key sometimes but people like that. A lot of people are trying to put on an act and I think people see through it and they're not really buying it. So I think you need another crank to come along."

The eccentric Thai player Dechawat Poomjaeng provided moments of farce during his matches against Stephen Maguire and Michael White, but the 34-year-old may prove to be a one-tournament wonder.



The player most frequently tipped to follow in a long line of fan favourites is Judd Trump, the 23-year-old Bristolian who suffered a semi-final loss to O'Sullivan in Sheffield.

However, Trump does not yet have the same connection to crowds as O'Sullivan has enjoyed since his early days.

Despite repeated retirement threats during the past fortnight, it would appear O'Sullivan intends to play on.

Winning the world title earned him a wild card for the Masters at Alexandra Palace in January, and he will take up that offer to perform at the tournament he has won four times. It may take persuasion from World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn to convince O'Sullivan he should bid for a third successive Crucible title, and a sixth in all.

But O'Sullivan respects Hearn, his former manager, and that bodes well. "Barry's been good to me over the years and I love him, he's like a family member to me," O'Sullivan said. "If I can help Barry out in any way, he knows my number. I'm there."

O'Sullivan grumbled during the tournament about money, and the amount he has to give over to his former partner, the mother of two of his children.

After collecting a cheque for £250,000 last night, he turned to financial issues again, stating he would not play events in China next season unless there was a windfall in it for him.

"If they want to pay me to go, as long as the fee's right I'll go anywhere," he said.

But he added: "I want to try to get myself something away from snooker to help me enjoy the game. I'm going to try to grow something and still play snooker for fun."

He took to farm labouring last year, to fill his time during a sabbatical from snooker, and relished that quiet life while it lasted.

O'Sullivan said: "I enjoyed it because you had a lot of kids there from broken backgrounds, who had been thrown out of school. They were raw kids and they didn't have a clue who I was. One of them thought I was a policeman.

"He said: 'What car do you drive'.

"I said: 'A BMW'. "And he said: 'Yeah, all policemen drive BMWs'.

"I had a good time and it was nice. I can still go back there but I need to earn some sort of living. I'm not being materialistic but I want to be able to provide, it's a self-esteem thing. If I didn't have a family I would probably just play snooker."