How, according to Fergal O’Brien, Ronnie O’Sullivan “became everything we thought possible”.

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Ronnie O’Sullivan has ‘checked all the boxes’ over the course of his stellar career (Image: Getty Images)

Ronnie O’Sullivan has become the biggest consensus Snooker players of all time and Fergal O’Brien has observed just that since they played together at Ilford over 30 years ago.

A youthful rocket was one of the main attractions of the famous London club, which was also home to the likes of Ken Doherty, Mark King, Anthony Hamilton and O’Brien.

The Irishman, who is still touring after turning professional in 1991, recalls being moved to England and thrown into the bear ditch along with plenty of talent.

“I went from number two in Ireland to number ten in Ilford. A club in London!’ O’Brien told the Talking Snooker podcast.

“You think you’re good and you see people like Ronnie at 15, he was great, you could see he was a star in the making.”

With seven world titles and an enormous list of other accolades in snooker, O’Sullivan has long been and will continue to be a star.

O’Brien saw what the Rocket could do early on and it came as a surprise when it wasn’t until 2001 that O’Sullivan won his first world title.

However, it’s not his talent that Fergal admires most about Ronnie, it’s his work ethic and adaptability throughout his career that, at 46, still makes him a world champion and world number one.

“It took him a while early in his career for all his talent,” said O’Brien. “He looked like he was about to become the youngest world champion ever and it took a lot longer. He won Great Britain [Championship] 1993 and the world championship title in 2001.

“He was going through a tough time mentally in the mid to late 90’s and his family situation would have tested any man to be fair. He survived.

“I’ve always been impressed that over the years he’s improved his game, worked with coaches and always done different things.

“If nobody could play for six months and we went to a tournament I’d say Ronnie would win it. That’s his talent. But then you look at all the other things outside of that.’

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Fergal O’Brien is full of admiration for the work of his old practice partner (Image: Getty Images)

O’Brien sees these other factors as O’Sullivan’s passion for exercise, healthy eating and how he interacted with Dr. Steve Peters worked on the mental side of the game.

The Rocket has managed to use his somewhat addictive personality to his advantage, both on and off the table.

Fergal has also seen O’Sullivan do things other players wouldn’t think of to keep his mind and game sharp.

“I saw him go to the club in Ilford on a Sunday and maybe play pool for a couple of hours,” O’Brien continued. “The left-handed thing might start out as boredom, but he’s pretty much mastered it. I have heard stories of him practicing on Christmas Day.

“He’s the fittest player. He published a cookbook. If you take all that and the mental side with Steve Peters.

“So okay yes he started with the greatest talent, he would have won tournaments and maybe a couple of world titles but he maximized every chance because he’s the strongest, the best nutrition and with Steve Peters he could be the best psychologist is there.

“Plus the hard work and effort he puts in. His obsessive nature that brought him down many times but his obsessive nature kept him going. The pursuit of perfection. Again, it’s a double-edged sword, but it’s kept him going.

“If Ronnie’s talent is bigger than everyone else’s and he’s working on his wits, he’s super fit and he’s on better nutrition, he’s putting the work in, how are you going to beat him? You won’t hit him. If he’s better than you anyway, it’s enough to do the same.

“Ronnie ticked all the boxes, he finally achieved everything he could. He’s become everything he hoped for and everything we thought was possible.’

MORE: Ronnie O’Sullivan ‘won the seventh World Snooker Championship because he felt bad for the TV crew’

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snooker How, according to Fergal O'Brien, Ronnie O'Sullivan "became everything we thought possible".

Nate Jones

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