Ronnie O’Sullivan knows that he can be a polarising character at times but does not believe that anyone in snooker actually dislikes him, despite some of them wanting to.
The Rocket has had plenty of run-ins with other players over the years, with comments that have ruffled feathers and even a physical confrontation in the infamous shouldergate with Ali Carter in 2018.
Calling lower-ranked players ‘numpties’ and telling Stephen Hendry he hoped to send him back to his ‘sad little life’ were other memorable comments, but O’Sullivan is certain no one holds any grudges.
He admits that the odd comment may cause his snooker colleagues to raise an eyebrow, but they can see that he never means anything by it.
‘Listen, within the snooker world everyone who knows me, knows me and even the ones who maybe quite dislike me, they don’t really dislike me,’ O’Sullivan told the Daily Mail. ‘They might want to dislike me but they find it hard to in many ways.
‘I don’t give them much reason. They know the real me. They know I love to compete and I work hard and I think that’s why they respect me more than anything.
‘Yeah, I say certain things but it’s just a bit of fish and chip paper. And sometimes I say certain things to try to motivate the younger generation to try to make themselves better.’
O’Sullivan grabbed headlines on the way to winning the 2020 World Championship when he said he would have to lose an arm and a leg to drop out of the top 50 in the rankings.
This certainly ruffled the feathers of players outside the top 50, but he has clarified his comments since then.
The Rocket says he was trying to inspire younger players to prove him wrong, but also claims he was just messing about and, with hindsight, does not really agree with his own words.
‘I suppose I am a little bit like Tyson [Fury], I just say things for a bit of a laugh really,’ Ronnie said.
‘Sometimes I actually believe it when I’m saying it, that’s the weird thing. That supreme confidence that has been jabbed into me. You come off the table after a certain performance and you feel like a superhuman. You feel like you are capable of anything.
‘But then when you wake up the next morning you think, “Cor, could I really compete in the top 50 with one arm and one leg? Probably not!”. You probably say certain things where in hindsight you think, “Cor, I must have been feeling good when I said that!”.’
Mark Selby is one player that has had an up-and-down relationship with the Rocket and he commented on his recent tactic of playing on when needing numerous snookers at the end of frames.
‘I don’t know, it is what it is. I went into the match knowing he was going to do that so I was ready for it and prepared,’ said Selby after beating O’Sullivan in the final of the Scottish Open.
‘It was a strange one, you’d have to ask him. One thing I will say is if that was me doing it, carrying on from 80 behind I know the commentators would have absolutely crucified me and slaughtered me.
‘I’ve watched it this week, him carrying on against other players, and everyone’s scared to say anything because it’s Ronnie so they don’t say anything.
‘If that had been me, for sure I’d be crucified by social media and the commentators as well.
‘I’m not going to stoop down to that level. People say I’m slow enough, I ain’t going to carry on on the pink and black for another half hour.’
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