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Ronnie O’Sullivan has taken a separate stance to a famous Muhammad Ali quote by insisting he does not consider himself one of the greatest players his sport has seen. O’Sullivan drew level with Stephen Hendry’s record seven World Championships last week and is already targeting an eighth.
O’Sullivan’s success over Judd Trump this month took him level with Hendry’s record, which had stood for 23 years. The 46-year-old is now set to take an extended period away from snooker to focus on other interests.
There have been reports that the snooker legend will take to the UFC ring to face Paddy Pimblett. He publicly mooted the prospect of a bout with the Liverpool-born fighter earlier this month.
Despite his snooker success, O’Sullivan has refused to repeat a famous Ali quote by calling himself the greatest his sport has seen. Instead, the Stourbridge-born ace says he simply wants to be remembered for enjoying playing snooker.
“I just enjoy playing and competing. Does it really matter who’s the greatest? To me it doesn’t. It’s just great to be at the high end of your sport,” O’Sullivan said.
“I won’t consider myself the greatest if I win eight. No, not at all. I don’t want to be considered the greatest. I want to be known as someone who loves snooker and just loves playing. That’s it.”
Iconic boxer Ali once proudly boasted of being ‘the greatest’ in a famous quote. Ali fought in famous fights against Joe Frazier – the Thriller in Manila – and George Foreman – the Rumble in the Jungle.
He once said: “I am the greatest. I said that even before I knew I was. I figured that if I said it enough, I would convince the world that I was really the greatest.”
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O’Sullivan does not disagree with Ali, either. He recently said Ali and Formula One great Ayrton Senna were the best sportspeople in history. Brazilian Senna won three world championships – in 1988, 1990 and 1991.
Asked last October who he thinks the greatest sportsperson of all time is, O’Sullivan concluded: “Can I pick two? I’m going to go for Muhammad Ali and Ayrton Senna as my two favourite sportspeople of all time.”
O’Sullivan’s final opponent, Trump was keen to laud the world no. 1 as the best snooker player in history. He said: “He’s always been so good to me throughout my career. [He] let me practise with him when I was young to try and learn things off him. [This is] an amazing achievement, and he will go down as the best player of all time.”
The 32-year-old added: “He just keeps getting better and better. I think his determination, dedication, you can see out there he barely misses a ball over the 31 frames.
“And I think he was the best player throughout the whole time by quite a distance. And I was just happy to make a sort of a match out of it this afternoon.”
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