Ronnie O’Sullivan has today announced his intentions to retire after the upcoming World Championship.
The unbelievable statement comes on the eve of this year’s edition at the Crucible, where the Englishman is the favourite to win his sixth crown.
Of course, O’Sullivan has often hinted at quitting throughout his career – right back to when he was a teenager.
However, the revelation on this occasion will still come as a surprise to the 40 year-old’s legion of fans.
O’Sullivan had seemed in a much better place mentally in the last number of campaigns, rarely competing abroad but mopping up in the majority of the home events in the UK.
But he has taken up other interests outside of top-level competition too.
In addition to running, which has been his form of meditation for more than a decade, O’Sullivan has begun working on both television and radio as a pundit and presenter.
As well as that, the Chigwell cueist has many dates on the exhibition circuit, which he admitted to preferring playing in at the Welsh Open in February – a tournament in which he went on to secure his 28th ranking event success.
Might that be his last ranking event victory, or could the ‘Rocket’ go out with a bang by landing one more crown in Sheffield?
In a statement, O’Sullivan said: “It’d be nice to get a sixth world title obviously, but today I just thought, wouldn’t it be even better to pack it all in.”
“I didn’t play that much this season and I’m loving life away from the pressures of competition.
“Playing the likes of Mark Selby and Neil Robertson week-in, week-out is a tough old grind and I’d much rather just tour the country beating Jimmy White in exhibitions. Jimmy’s flying in practice by the way.
“Maybe I’ll play in the Seniors next season. That’d be a laugh.”
While O’Sullivan’s unthinkable departure from the game may not shock some, it does come at a period when particular records and milestones do seem to be within reach.
Stephen Hendry’s record of seven world titles now appears a step too far and, even though O’Sullivan surpassed the Scot’s 775 century break tally, it’d now be nigh-on impossible for him to reach the magical 1,000 mark.
It’s inconceivable to imagine the circuit without him.