Ken Doherty insists Ronnie O’Sullivan was always destined for greatness after witnessing the Essex man’s prowess at such a young age.
O’Sullivan is regarded by many pundits as the best player ever to pick up a cue and has five world titles to his name in a glittering career.
At 43, he is now at an age when players tend to be slowing down or even thinking about retirement but ‘The Rocket’ has been on fire this season, winning five of the 10 events he has entered.
Unsurprisingly, the man with 36 rankings titles to his name is a 3.50 favourite to win a sixth Crucible crown this year, with fellow Englishman Judd Trump next in the market at 5.50.
O’Sullivan burst onto the scene as a 17-year-old, winning the UK Open in just his second season as a professional and Doherty confessed that he saw it coming even before the star became a teenager.
“We always knew he was going to be very, very special,” he told Starsport. “His father used to send a taxi for me to practice with him in his house when he was 12.
“Then he’d come up to the snooker club and we’d practice up there. But you could see from the way he played, even then at 12 years of age – he was knocking in centuries, he was making 147’s.”
The West Midlands-born ace, who is now back on top of the world rankings, is more selective in the tournaments he takes part in these days and is not playing in the current China Open.
However, he is sure to be firing on all cylinders in Sheffield later this month and Doherty feels the game is better off with the top dog around.
“It’s fantastic to see, he’s a very, very special talent and we’re blessed to have him,” he added.