Ronnie O’Sullivan heartbreak as father’s jail sentence almost derailed career

Ronnie O'Sullivan clashes with Mark Allen during tense game

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Ronnie O’Sullivan crashed out of the Masters last night. The Rocket was outclassed by Australian Neil Robertson – who will face Mark Williams in the semi-final. Roberton made breaks of 119 and 130, plus three centuries, against the Englishman.

Speaking to the media after last nihgt’s defeat, he admitted he would have liked to have pushed Robertson harder. 

Widely considered the greatest snooker player of all time, he has looked at his very best of late, but could not pull off the same heroics last night.

He did, however, remind himself of what he has already done in the game. He has dominated the sport for the best part of three decades.

However, he once opened up about how his father being sent to prison, which happened in the same year he turned professional, almost derailed his career.

Ronnie O’Sullivan Snr was jailed for life for murder in 1992. He served 18 years behind bars before being released in 2010.

Speaking to the Daily Star two years ago, Ronnie said: “He was a big driving force behind me, he kept me on the straight and narrow.

“To not have him there was tough, it was teamwork. From 1995-2000 I won a few tournaments but I was never really consistent as much as I should have been.”

He said he wasted five years of his career “messing about really”.

He continued: “Once I’d won the UK Championship [his first ranking title] there was a monkey off my back.

“But dad was away and when he went away it took a year for me to get my head around accepting that he wasn’t going to be around.

“When I won that tournament I devoted that win to him, and if I never won another tournament it would be fine.”

Ronnie won the 1993 UK Championship seven days before his 18th birthday. He became the youngest ever winner of a ranking tournament, a record he still holds today.

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He won the 1995 Masters the following season, aged just 19, becoming the youngest Masters champion in history.

Ronnie admitted his intensity level “dropped a little bit” after winning the UK Championship.

He said: “I started enjoying myself a bit too much thinking that I’d made it, when really I hadn’t, it was just one tournament. I think it would have been a lot different [with my father around].”

A period of Ronnie’s career in the late Nineties was marred with controversy — he acknowledged drink and drug abuse in the early years of his career and spent time in the Priory Hospital for rehabilitation.

Having got himself back on the right path, he won his first world World Championship in 2001, defeating John Higgins 18-14 in the final.

He felt he would have won the prestigious title much earlier had he not lost his way.

He said: “Absolutely, 100 percent it would have been different.

“But it was what it was, it was unfortunate for me and him. Things could have been so much better.

“I certainly would have enjoyed my career a lot more having him around than not having him around.”

Ronnie ditched his party lifestyle long ago in favour of keeping fit.

He enjoys running, and was ranked inside the top 1,500 10km runners in the UK in 2008 with a time of 34 minutes and 54 seconds.

He also enjoys cooking, motor racing and watching Arsenal FC.

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