Saturday Kitchen: Ronnie O’Sullivan discusses his fish diet
The 45-year-old returns to action in this year’s World Snooker Championship as the current title holder, having destroyed fellow Englishman Kyren Wilson in the 2020 final. Nicknamed The Rocket, O’Sullivan has been in decent form ahead of the tournament, which is being held inside Sheffield’s The Crucible Theatre, although he has lost five finals on the bounce since his World Snooker Championship win. The victory last year saw O’Sullivan draw level with Davis, who is often cited as one of snooker’s most influential – and enduring – characters, as a six-time winner.
And although O’Sullivan has previously lavished praise on Davis, the snooker legend was less than complimentary when assessing what the 63-year-old had done for the game’s image.
He noted how “every sport needs characters”, heralding how the likes of tennis stars Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, and sprinter Usain Bolton, had raised the profile of their respective disciplines.
Yet, he felt that in snooker “there isn’t a lot of personality”, and wanted players to “just come out and give it a little bit”.
He continued: “I don’t mean be flash or arrogant but just play with a bit of personality, express yourself, look like you’re enjoying it.
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Ronnie O’Sullivan is the current World Snooker Championship winner
“Let it rip, give it a go, go out and enjoy it, because I’m doing that inside.
“I love the game, I’m like a little kid and I have to tone that down because people will say I shouldn’t play like that, but I’m still playing with personality, on my toes, bouncing, but I look at some other players and they’re like dead, they need a good kick up the bum, liven yourself up.
“I think Steve Davis ruined the game in the Eighties when he came along.”
In the Eighties, snooker experienced a huge resurgence in popularity – thanks most notably to the introduction and demand of colour television a decade before.
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Ronnie O’Sullivan wins in 2012
The likes of Davis, Dennis Taylor and Alex Higgins became overnight sensations, but due to the former’s dominance of the sport, O’Sullivan felt it held the game back.
O’Sullivan, who was speaking on the Track and Ball podcast in December, said: “Everybody else had a laugh and a joke and a bit of personality, then Davis came along and he was just like a robot.
“As a person he’s got personality, but on the table he was motionless, sips his water, didn’t talk, didn’t show any emotion and that became the new snooker player, we all became Steve Davis clones.”
He added: “Now, all the snooker players are nice people if you speak to them off the table but on the table you think: ‘Mate, give me something.’
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Steve Davis in his pomp
“They haven’t got none [energy]. They just go down, pot balls, play well, shake hands, good luck. I’m sure there’s some passion in there somewhere but they don’t play with enough of it.”
Growing up, O’Sullivan has previously described his admiration for Davis, and his ability as an all-time snooker great.
The pair have spoken fondly of one another, with Davis admiring O’Sullivan’s brilliance after he claimed a world title in 2012.
Beating Ali Carter in that year’s final, he became only the third man to clinch three Crucible titles, since the tournament moved to Sheffield.
Steve Davis and the other snooker players who popularised the game
Davis said at the time: “Ronnie is the best genius any sport has ever had – pure genius.
“Obviously, I am biased and love snooker. He’s the best we’ve ever seen in snooker, possibly in sport.
“There’s [Tiger] Woods and Federer but Ronnie is the biggest genius I’ve ever witnessed.”
O’Sullivan is among the favourites for this year’s tournament, but will be up against frontrunner and world number one Judd Trump.
The World Snooker Championships run between April 17 and May 3, with coverage shown live across the BBC.