Ronnie O’Sullivan: Enjoyment, not chasing records, key to seven-time world snooker champion’s genius

Ronnie O’Sullivan said more without uttering a word during his crowning moment at the Betfred World Championship than a thousand press conferences will tell you.

For many years now, O’Sullivan – arguably the best player ever to pick up a snooker cue – has tried to convince us all that records don’t matter, as he continues to rewrite the history books in a sport he has been the poster boy for since he won the UK Championship back in 1993 as a fresh-faced 17-year-old.

But as he clinched an 18-13 win over Judd Trump at the Crucible theatre on Monday night, we saw the real Ronnie O’Sullivan.He had just equalled Stephen Hendry’s ‘unbeatable’ seven world titles – and unlike the Scot who dominated a mere decade in the Nineties – O’Sullivan’s success in Sheffield has been spread over a jaw-dropping 21 years.

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He went over to commiserate with Trump – seen by many as the heir apparent to O’Sullivan as snooker’s leading man – but as the pair embraced, it seemed a special moment.

England's Ronnie O'Sullivan reveals his true emotions after beating England's Judd Trump in the Betfred World Snooker Championship final at The Crucible, Sheffield (Picture: Zac Goodwin/PA Wire)

Certainly the Crucible crowd thought so, as they clapped, then clapped some more, as the two adversaries hugged for an age. It seemed to go on longer than O’Sullivan’s record-breaking 147 which he completed in just over five minutes. And when the 46-year-old – the oldest world champion in the game’s rich history – turned back towards the cameras, you could see the emotion in his face, as the tears flowed.

“I gave him a big hug at the end and was sobbing in his arms,” admitted O’Sullivan, who added the seven world titles, to the seven UK Championships and seven Masters he has also won in a glittering career.

It was a special moment in O’Sullivan’s career, matching Hendry’s Crucible record.

Reverting back to the script, the new seven-time world champion insisted afterwards he is not motivated by records, and simply wants to enjoy playing snooker.

England's Ronnie O'Sullivan embraces England's Judd Trump after winning the Betfred World Snooker Championship (Picture: PA)

It’s a mantra which goes a long way to explaining his longevity in the sport.

How else can a sporting genius – and I don’t use the phrase lightly – cope with playing, or losing, with mere mortals.

In his early career, O’Sullivan struggled with his own demons, and he would get frustrated and angry at his own failings as he failed to achieve the greatness his talent deserved at every tournament.

So a mindset, repeatedly drummed in, just like the hours training every day on the practice table, that records don’t matter, just play for the enjoyment allows O’Sullivan to keep his equilibrium.

Ronnie O'Sullivan celebrates with the trophy after winning a seventh world title (Picture: PA)

How many times do we see football players and managers celebrate a derby win, then parade in front of the media minutes later to say it was just another three points, just another game?

No, O’Sullivan’s win on Monday evening wasn’t just another game.

It was the coronation moment, which saw O’Sullivan join Hendry on the Crucible throne.

And the emotional scenes which followed will go down in sporting folklore as the moment when Ronnie O’Sullivan finally showed how much this all means to him.