RONNIE O’Sullivan last night revealed he only returned to snooker because he needed the money and claimed he will walk away from the sport again soon.
The reigning world champion marched through to the semi-finals at the Crucible in Sheffield with a 13-4 victory over Stuart Bingham and faces a last-four clash with Judd Trump that begins today. Trump said he is not scared of O’Sullivan and their clash promises to be a classic, just as Trump’s 13-12 quarter-final victory over Shaun Murphy was in the end yesterday.
But it will take place against the backdrop of another retirement warning from O’Sullivan, who has spent most of the last 12 months out of the game by choice. O’Sullivan has frequently threatened to quit snooker during his career. The 37-year-old four-time winner of the Betfair World Championship said after last night’s win: “It’s nice to be in the semi-finals but to be honest I didn’t really miss snooker.
“But I missed having something to do and I was struggling for a bit of money.
“I’ll be honest, I still owe the school money for my children’s school fees, I haven’t paid the last two or three terms. I’ve realised I don’t miss snooker one bit but I needed a bit of money.
“I didn’t know what was going to happen here but I’ve made a little bit of money now so I can go and pay the school fees now for the next two years.
“But really I don’t think snooker is for me. This could be my last proper major event.
“As far as putting my heart and soul into snooker, I don’t think that’s what I want to do anymore but I had to give it a go.
“I needed some money quick.
“Having come back, it’s been tough for me in some ways. I’ve had a taste of not playing. I didn’t want to put my life and soul into it. I have signed a contract with my sponsor to play in ten events so I’ll play in those.”
But O’Sullivan stated those events could include Legends tour events, and low-profile tournaments, and stressed there was no stipulation that he should appear at events such as the UK Championship, Masters or World Championship.
O’Sullivan vowed he would be giving it his all against Trump. “I’ll be out there trying my nuts off,” he said. “I’m a competitor and I hate losing. I will fight to the death. They’ll have to scrape me off the table. I’ve got five days left potentially, it could possibly be three, and if I can’t get through that then something’s seriously wrong. The light at the end of the tunnel is it doesn’t have to go on any longer.”
Asked if he would be in Sheffield for next year’s World Championship, O’Sullivan said: “I’ve no intention to come back. If I find something else to do you definitely won’t see me
“I’ve kept my cards close to my chest but there’s no reason to keep them close now.
“This is my last farewell, it’s my swansong. I’m happy; I’m done. I’ll fulfil my contract and keep my sponsor happy. It’s just ten events and I’ll see them out.”
“I can’t keep putting myself through being unhappy. I wish I could just smile it off, shrug it off but it’s not like that for me. I wish I had the attitude of players who come here and smile and enjoy it. I just beat myself up too much and it’s not healthy.”
O’Sullivan led 12-1 at one stage against Bingham, and finished off the match in the opening frame of last night’s session.
Trump had clinched his victory over Murphy in the afternoon after holding his nerve in a 53-minute deciding frame, and came out fighting afterwards, saying: “There’s only a certain amount of players who have got the self-belief to beat Ronnie and scare him and I think I’m one of them. I’ve got a good record against Ronnie. I’ve beaten him more times than he’s beaten me, so hopefully I can go out and scare him.”
“I think people are just scared of the name. The big stage is where I want to be. I’m not scared of the name.”
O’Sullivan responded to that by saying: “I think I’ve earned that reputation. I’ve played him a few times and I’ve sensed he’s wobbled. Even he gets scared of me. It’s a hard place out there. If you play well enough and stay with him, and peg him back, he’s not Stephen Hendry or John Higgins. We’re not mates. He’s 23 and I’m 37, and I don’t go out anywhere. I go running eight miles and he sits there eating McDonald’s.”
Earlier Barry Hawkins wrapped up a 13-7 win over Ding Junhui and will play Ricky Walden, who defeated Michael White 13-6.