RONNIE O’Sullivan has revealed the reasons why he agreed to Eurosport’s offer to present his own television programme – after rejecting a host of big-money reality TV offers.
The Rocket plays his final warm-up event in Preston this week at the PTC Grand Finals this week before going for a sixth world title at the Crucible in April.
On the table the 38-year-old O’Sullivan will be fully focused on making sure he arrives properly prepared to try and equal Steve Davis’s tally, and get closer to Stephen Hendry’s record of seven.
But Tuesday will also see the first airing of ‘The Ronnie O’Sullivan Show’ on British Eurosport 2 at 12.30pm, representing a venture into the unknown.
O’Sullivan has already done plenty of filming for a magazine programme that will see him presenting, interviewing, reflecting on his season and prospects and providing coaching tips and master-class style demonstrations.
With the programmes going out far beyond the confines of the United Kingdom O’Sullivan knows that he is now the figurehead for the broadcaster’s extensive coverage of his sport.
And in a revealing interview he admitted to having to conquer some fears before starting to feel more at home in his new role.
O’Sullivan said: “Playing the full calendar including all the overseas events is something I decided I didn’t want to do, just living my life out of a suitcase and my health was suffering.
“But only playing a limited amount obviously there are big gaps in my calendar, and when Eurosport put the deal in front of me I gave it a lot of thought.
“And in the end I just thought at this stage of my life I have the time and it would be great to do something new and different.
“I love snooker, and hopefully it is the start of a long relationship if we are both happy with the shows.
“I was a bit scared at first. I am okay being interviewed now after 20-plus years but how would I feel with the boot being on the other foot, taking to the guys?
“But I am passionate about it so actually it hasn’t been as difficult as I thought. I dabbled a bit when I was seriously thinking about retiring two or three years ago.
“I did some with the Power Snooker and I have done some training courses, you pick up bits of what you learn.
“I want feedback from the TV people, I want to be the best presenter I can be and have told them not to be frightened of advising me - but added to that I plan to also just be myself.
“By having my own show I am allowed to have input and suggest things I find interesting.
“I don’t think I’m quite going down the road of Gary Lineker, Andrew Flintoff or Jamie Redknapp after their careers, that is a bit too showbiz for me.
“I don’t want to go down the Strictly Come Dancing route and sell myself like that, though God knows I have had hundreds of offers for shows like that.
“But I have a great fan base out there and this is what I want to do, and will work for me. If I can’t do this I will turn it in and not bother.
“We have filmed a couple of shows and I was finding out if I could say it how I wanted to say it, and basically they want me to do whatever I feel comfortable with and are backing me.
“What I want to come over is my philosophy of the sport, how I learned to play it. It is not a difficult game in many ways, but it is very tough mentally.
“It is challenging and you come up against different styles of opponents, but I will be doing some ‘masterclass’ sessions. Not everyone in Europe gets to be coached by me or Steve Davis or Stephen Hendry, so this will be the nearest thing they get.
“And hopefully one day some German or Polish kid takes on some of it and starts playing snooker the way I like it to be played and approach it in a certain way.
“I believe anyone can play snooker the way I play it – it is just they have chosen to go about things differently. And even then I would like to see people push it on another level.
“Eurosport has a huge reach, and the game is becoming so popular throughout the continent because of their coverage.
“But I am very happy with what we have agreed. It fits around my plans and aspirations nicely, I still want to win more major titles and I can do both.
“And at the same time I am learning a new trade and new profession, and add another string to my bow.
“When I have dabbled in this area before, I immediately realised there is nothing out there that will give me the buzz I get from playing snooker.
“It’s different. You are accepting that at some point in the future you won’t have the victories and the buzz I get competing, but you have to plan for your future.
“Even when I was much younger I knew that, it wouldn’t go on forever. You enjoy it and go with it at the time, but it was in the back of my mind.
“It happens to every sportsman who has enjoyed great success, that transition – including in snooker people like Stephen Hendry, and Steve Davis.”
The Ronnie O’Sullivan Show will be first broadcast on Tuesday 25th March at 12.30pm on British Eurosport 2