RONNIE O’SULLIVAN has returned to snooker declaring he wants to enjoy more York glory.
The reigning World Champion has ended his nine-month sabbatical from the game, announcing he will defend his title in Sheffield in April.
While outlining his desire to again clinch the game’s biggest prize, he also targeted another two triumphs in the UK Championship, which is held in December at the Barbican.
“I’ve won four world titles, four UKs and four Masters,” said O’Sullivan. “Let’s try and make it five worlds, six UKs and five Masters.”
O’Sullivan said last November he would not compete for the rest of the season, ruling out another crack at the World Championship this year, but changed his mind in a London press conference – insisting he will take part in the tournament at the Crucible, which begins on April 20.
It’s just the latest act in an eventful career for the 37-year-old, who won his first UK crown just a week short of his 18th birthday nearly two decades ago.
O’Sullivan trounced Ken Doherty 10-1 to win the UK crown in December 2001, the first to be held in York, and infamously walked out of his quarter-final clash with Stephen Hendry when 4-1 down in the 2006 tournament in the Minster city.
Despite his lack of match practice, O’Sullivan believes he can be a contender at the World Championships – although he conceded he was aiming at the long-term.
He said: “I just thought it was time to come back. I have a different perspective now.
“I am used to being written off. I know how good I am and that I can do this.”
Widely regarded as the most naturally talented player snooker has ever seen, O’Sullivan has had just one competitive outing this season when losing to Simon Bedford in a Players Tour Championship event.
“Three or four months ago I was sitting thinking that I would rather be losing 10-0 in Sheffield to be back playing, rather than going for lunch, dinner and chilling out,” O’Sullivan added.
“I got bored and had to get back to playing, winning or losing, and it shows how big a part of my life snooker is.
“I feel refreshed, I was never out of juice. I needed to take some time out, but not too much time, and I had it in the back of my mind that I would come back to playing snooker, but I needed to come back with a clear head.
“I’ve played three or four exhibitions but I’ve played ten days in nine months.
“I’ve potted lots of balls, but I’m match rusty. I’ve not played matches in tense situations and it’s going to be a tough course with no practice.
“You can never replicate match situations anywhere else. This is a massive challenge but I see this as the start of a bigger picture.”