Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

What next for Ronnie O'Sullivan?

Ronnie O'Sullivan at the table in the final match against Barry Hawkins during the Betfair World Championships at the Crucible, Sheffield
Ronnie O'Sullivan at the table in the final match against Barry Hawkins during the Betfair World Championships at the Crucible, Sheffield
SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - MAY 06:  Ronnie O'Sullivan of England poses with the trophy and his son Ronnie after beating Barry Hawkins of England to win the Betfair World Snooker Championship at the Crucible Theatre on May 6, 2013
SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - MAY 06: Ronnie O'Sullivan of England poses with the trophy and his son Ronnie after beating Barry Hawkins of England to win the Betfair World Snooker Championship at the Crucible Theatre on May 6, 2013
Barry Hawkins at the table in the final match against Ronnie O'Sullivan during the Betfair World Championships at the Crucible, Sheffield. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday May 6, 2013. See PA story SNOOKER World. Photo credit should read: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire
Barry Hawkins at the table in the final match against Ronnie O'Sullivan during the Betfair World Championships at the Crucible, Sheffield. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday May 6, 2013. See PA story SNOOKER World. Photo credit should read: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

Ronnie O'Sullivan claims he will retire rather than defend his world title next year.

The 37-year-old returned from a short spell out of the game to win his fifth Betfair World Championship, beating Barry Hawkins 18-12 in the final in Sheffield.

But barring a change of heart - quite possible given his track record - it will be his last competitive match at the Crucible.

We look at where O'Sullivan's future may lie.

:: FOLLOW HENDRY'S PATH

Stephen Hendry retired after losing to Stephen Maguire at the Crucible last year to take up a lucrative contract promoting pool in China. The problem for O'Sullivan in following that route would be in the travelling, as he has been reluctant to spend long spells away from home in the past.

:: POT A TV JOB

Former world champions Steve Davis, John Parrott, Hendry and Ken Doherty are staple figures of the BBC coverage of snooker, all slick operators and well rewarded for their part-time work. Should O'Sullivan follow their route into broadcasting, it would mean him remaining in close contact with the people on the snooker tour he says he missed so badly during his time on hiatus.

:: GET ME OUT OF HERE

O'Sullivan insisted in Sheffield that his goal is not to be famous. "I don't want to be a celebrity," he said. "I don't want to be on the telly, I don't want to do any of that sort of stuff. I don't want to be a billionaire, I don't want to rule the world. I want to have a purpose in life and there are other things out there that I'd like to do and I'm excited by it." What could that mean? Well, O'Sullivan fancies the quiet life, and said: "I have been watching these property programmes where they buy a new house, put a new kitchen in - it sounds a bit easier than playing snooker."

:: HAVE A RE-THINK

Even if the purpose of his comeback was to earn the fast money he required to pay off school fees, O'Sullivan has enjoyed proving again that there is nobody to touch him in the modern game. He still loves snooker, by his own admission, but needs to find a happy medium between life on and off the table. Even if O'Sullivan were to play only the UK Championship, Masters and World Championship next season, he would be an asset to the sport, and cream off handsome rewards in prize-money and sponsorship. It is entirely realistic to believe he could match or better Hendry's record of seven world titles as a part-time pro.

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