Raymond van Barneveld claimed that the breathtaking reception he received from the 10,000 Dutch fans packed into Rotterdam’s Ahoy Arena, was ‘the best moment of his career’.
Van Barneveld produced a valiant fightback from 6-4 down against Peter Wright to claim a share of the spoils on home soil on Thursday evening. However, this night will be remembered for the electric atmosphere generated by the ‘Barney Army’, rather than the result itself.
The five-time world champion admitted: “It was probably the best moment in my career. You can win titles; you can win many titles, but to be honoured like this, is probably the best that can ever happen.”
Van Barneveld was the first ever Dutchman to win a World Championship title and he claims he is proud of the legacy he has created in Holland. “Everyone started to play Darts because of me. Michael van Gerwen is there now; we have Jelle Klaasen, we have Christian Kist; all world champions!”
“It was a bumpy road for me, and it’s still a bumpy road for me. I did good things for Darts in Holland, and there was a lot, a lot of respect for me tonight, and I’m really proud of that,” van Barneveld added.
The 49-year-old from Den Haag also admitted that nerves were a big factor in his performance against Snakebite. “You cannot describe the feeling inside of you. It affects your game as well. I was so nervous before this game.”
“I have never ever been nervous for all these weeks, but tonight it was so different; to play for your home country, to play for Holland, to play for Rotterdam. When this Orange army came out, I thought hang on, this is not a normal game anymore. This is home. ”
“My friends, my family were here. I was hoping to play a fantastic game with many 180’s but that never happened. I don’t know why; maybe I was too nervous,” van Barneveld acknowledged.
It was a topsy-turvy contest, with both players missing doubles at crucial times. However, the contest was also littered with quality, as Barney delivered finishes of 101, 120 and 121 to claim a point.
This is only the third time in eleven years that RvB has failed to qualify for the play-offs, but the 2014 champion is determined to return with vengeance next year. He concluded: “But at the end, I got a point, and hopefully I’m back next year in the Premier League and hopefully we’ll be back in Rotterdam next year.”
It was certainly a special evening that Raymond van Barneveld will never forget. He has been a wonderful ambassador for Darts in general, but his contribution to Dutch Darts has been extraordinary. The spine-tingling reception he received from the adoring Rotterdam crowd was befitting of the legendary status that Raymond deservedly commands.
Here is a snippet from the incredible reception that Barney received last night! (Via: Official PDC)