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Barney aims to make his last hurrah a bit special

 

Glittering career: Raymond van Barneveld is all set for his final World Championship before retiring
Glittering career: Raymond van Barneveld is all set for his final World Championship before retiring
Raymond van Barneveld celebrating his PDC title triumph in Purfleet on New Year’s Day 2007
Michael van Gerwen

By Robert Jones

Raymond van Barneveld says he is ready to enjoy life as he prepares to end a glittering darts career after the World Championship, which starts tonight.

The five-time world champion announced last year that 2019 would be his final season on the circuit before quickly reversing his decision to retire early after a dismal Premier League campaign in March.

Now 52-year-old Barney, who won four BDO World Championship titles before clinching the PDC crown in his first year after switching in 2006, believes the time is right for him to bow out.

"I'm ready to enjoy life which is something that I've never done in 25 years of playing darts," Van Barneveld said.

"I spoke to Phil Taylor and he said 'Ray, I'm not going to miss it one day. I'm still happy that I made the decision and I can now do things that I never could'.

"The problem is that I'm not a young man any more.

"I've played 35 years of darts and these are the moments why I want to give up. It's too much preparation for me, it's too much stress, and as a diabetic this body is giving up," he added.

Barney has struggled to deliver anywhere near his best form in his final season, but a quarter-final appearance at the Players Championship finals last month hinted at a potential upturn in fortunes.

He starts his campaign tomorrow evening against American qualifier Darin Young.

"There is so much going on in my head," Van Barneveld added. "I can't wait for this year to end with hopefully a good result at the worlds. But what is a good result?

"The only good result is lifting the trophy, but that's not realistic, although the belief is still there."

Defending champion Michael van Gerwen, who has won the trophy three times, is yet to successfully defend his title but arrives at Alexandra Palace as the firm favourite.

The 30-year-old World No.1 appears perfectly placed to retain his crown, but Welshman Gerwyn Price could prove his main challenger.

The Iceman beat Van Gerwen on the way to defending his Grand Slam of Darts title last month, but he has only once made the last-16 at the World Championship in five attempts - losing in the last-64 on four occasions.

Van Gerwen headlines the opening night when he takes on the winner of the first match of the tournament between former Lakeside world champion Jelle Klaasen and Kevin Burness.

Price begins his campaign on December 19.

Glen Durrant is bidding to hold both the BDO and PDC world titles at the same time, having won the last three Lakeside titles before making the switch to the PDC earlier this year.

The 48-year-old, who has only been playing top-level darts since 2014, has made three major semi-finals since making the move. Few would back against him challenging for the title at Ally Pally.

"Five years ago I wasn't even the best player in my super league team. It's a great story and I'm just living the moment," Durrant said.

"That trophy (the BDO world championship) meant a lot to me. As far as I was concerned, the day I won that it was the day I climbed a mountain. But the PDC is the Premier League of darts and I'm having a whale of a time.

"I'm an ordinary man having an extraordinary year and I think people can see that I'm a genuine guy who is pinching himself and relishing the opportunities he is getting now."

Although Arsenal are still waiting on any decision made by Max Allegri, and sources close to the club say they are still "testing the waters" on any potential alternative, circumstances now feel like they

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