27th of February 2013 Author: Johnny Karp
Ronnie O'Sullivan can play on for several years and beat Stephen Hendry's record of seven world snooker titles, says snooker legend Jimmy White. O'Sullivan, a four-time World Champion, has just ended a break from the game started last November and announced that he will defend the world title at the Crucible in April.
"With Ronnie's talent and fitness he can play for a good five years. I think he can beat Hendry's record by winning more than seven titles," said White. O'Sullivan stated: "Always in the back of my mind, I was never ready to retire. That was never my intention."
After playing just one competitive match in the 2012-13 season, the player nicknamed "The Rocket" announced a sabbatical until the end of the season, citing personal issues. Jimmy White now welcomes his return at the table, comparing his impact in the world of snooker to that of football superstar Lionel Messi in soccer: "Snooker needs him - Ronnie brings the Messi factor. He's got so much natural talent, people just enjoy watching him. The main reason people love him is his style of play," said White.
O'Sullivan is planning to write an autobiography and he will have plenty to write about. He made his televised debut aged 14 but was three years later his father was jailed for murder following a nightclub fight. "I'm writing a book which will cover what has happened over the last few years and the reasons I did pull out of snooker. The full story will be in there and everyone will be able to read between the lines," he said.
O'Sullivan should begin playing again in practice matches as soon as possible. "I think he starts on Monday which will give him six weeks before he actually plays, he'll be in as good as shape as ever, if not better," said White. "What people forget is last year he didn't play in many tournaments and nor did Ali Carter, because there are so many on the circuit, and he got to the final."
O'Sullivan has slipped to 24 in the snooker world rankings but he will be top seed at the Crucible as reigning world champion. His first match at the tournament should be at 10:00 GMT on Saturday, 20 April.
You can already bet on the outcome of the World Snooker Championship at Bet365, here are the odds for the top three favourites:
Judd Trump - 11/2
Ronnie O'Sullivan - 6/1
Mark Selby - 13/2
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