The World Snooker Tour chairman was speaking ahead of the final session of the 2020 World Snooker Championship final.
Barry Hearn ranks soon-to-be world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan above Stephen Hendry and his own Steve Davis as the greatest player in the history of the game.
Snooker’s supremo was speaking on BBC Radio soon after the “Rocket” established a commanding 17-8 lead over Kyren Wilson following the third session of their World Championship title decider at the Crucible on Sunday.
O’Sullivan needs only one more frame to capture a sixth world crown that would take him just one behind Hendry’s modern-day record of seven.
Victory for the 44 year-old would also see him surpass the Scot’s long-held record of 36 career ranking titles, extending his tally a staggering 27 years after he claimed his maiden trophy at the 1993 UK Championship.
“I have to tell you that I think Ronnie O’Sullivan is the greatest player that’s ever held a cue,” Hearn said on 5 Live Sport.
“I think Hendry was a better winning machine and more dedicated, I think Davis at the time was head and shoulders above anything that was out there.”
“Every player has their time, but Ronnie O’Sullivan appears to have so many gears to go through, and he’s a complicated boy as we all know but my word this boy is special.
“I managed him twice and a lot my grey hairs are named after Jimmy White and Ronnie O’Sullivan, but I wouldn’t swap any of them because they give me excitement and they make me want to get out of bed in the morning.”
Ronnie O’Sullivan stands just one frame away from a sixth world title as he leads Kyren Wilson 17-8 at the end of the third session.
Incidentally, he would become the first player ranked no.6 pre-tournament to win at the Crucible #Niche
— Matt (@ProSnookerBlog) August 16, 2020
On the rescheduled 2020 World Championship, Hearn admitted that it had “been a roller coaster” and said that the return of limited crowds for the final showdown was a reward for all the hard work that was undertaken behind the scenes in successfully completing the event.
“We knew we were working towards it at the beginning of the event and that wonderful joy evaporated when after about half an hour the government changed their minds about cancelling all the pilot events.”
“So that was an emotional up and a huge blow down for all the staff that worked so hard.
“We knew we had two weeks to wait, and then we got the call the night before the final started to say it looks like your perseverance has paid off.
“We kept everything in place, we kept nagging as we do quite well, and they knew our track record on health and safety was so high.
“That was a wonderful feeling when they said we can have a final (with fans) – don’t think it’s for the money, because that’s a minor issue in the millions of pounds that have been spent on promoting this sport.
“It was a lift for everyone involved and a reward for all their hard work to actually see smiling faces and people sitting in the audiences.”
The World Championship final concludes on Sunday evening with £500,000 being awarded to the champion.