Five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld has announced that he will retire from professional darts following the 2019/2020 William Hill World Darts Championship.
The legendary Dutchman is one of the most iconic figures in darting history and has enjoyed a magnificent career, but he has decided to play one final year on the PDC circuit before retiring from competitive action.
Van Barneveld will compete in his 27th and penultimate World Championship at the Alexandra Palace next month, and he spoke to the PDC’s Darts Show to explain the reasons behind his decision.
“Next year is going to be my 35th year of playing darts at the highest level and it’s going to be my last year,” said Van Barneveld.
“I noticed in myself that I can’t keep up anymore, I know what I can do but it’s just not been happening for the past three or four years apart from winning the World Cup with Michael [van Gerwen].
“I’m not winning tournaments anymore, I don’t know why but a lot of things have happened in my private life and I’ve also noticed that my body isn’t feeling 100 percent anymore – I don’t have the drive, motivation or fitness to carry on.
“I’m a winner, that’s what I do – I lift trophies but I can’t do it anymore. Maybe there are still a couple of titles left in me and that would be amazing but I can’t do this every week anymore. I don’t want my career to fizzle out which is why I’ve made the decision to retire at the end of next year.”
In sport, the term ‘legend’ is often too readily used, although Van Barneveld is more than deserving of such status. He’s enjoyed remarkable longevity in the sport and has featured in some of the greatest games ever seen- most notably his classic 2007 PDC World Championship Final against Phil Taylor.
Barney enjoyed sustained success in the BDO, prior to his switch to the PDC in 2006. He won four Lakeside titles in 1998, 1999, 2003 and 2005, two World Masters crowns, four Zuiderduin Masters and two successive World Trophy titles in 2003 and 2004.
Nevertheless, the Dutchman’s switch to the PDC changed the landscape of world darts, with the likes of Van Gerwen, Anderson, Whitlock, Chisnall, King, Van der Voort, Klaasen and Webster all crossing the darting divide over the coming years.
Van Barneveld made an instant impact on the PDC circuit; claiming glory in sensational style on his PDC World Championship debut. The Den Haag ace faced his old foe Phil Taylor in an extraordinary final at the Circus Tavern; coming from 3-0 down to defeat ‘The Power’ in a captivating sudden-death leg.
The 51-year-old has scooped a total of 29 PDC titles; including two UK Opens, the Las Vegas Desert Classic, and more recently- the Grand Slam of Darts and Premier League. RvB is also the joint most successful star in World Cup of Darts history, having won four titles for the Netherlands- three of those alongside Michael van Gerwen.
In addition to his extensive trophy cabinet, Van Barneveld created further history by becoming the first player to achieve a nine-dart finish in both the Premier League, in 2006, and PDC World Championship, in 2009. He’s one of just two players to hit two nine-darters at a World Championship and has hit a total of five televised nine-darters.
However, his legend status also goes beyond his incredible darting achievements. The five-time world champion is arguably the most popular figure within the sport, with the ‘Barney Army’ always a vocal presence irrespective of the venue.
In 2016, the Premier League visited Rotterdam for the very first time, and the adulation Van Barneveld received was unprecedented. There was a sea of orange at the Ahoy Arena, with the 10,000 Dutch fans desperate to show their appreciation for the ultimate darting enigma, who loves to produce Rocky Balboa moments on the big stage.
Phil Taylor is the only player in darting history to have won the World Championship on more occasions than Van Barneveld, with the Dutchman tied on five world titles along with the late Eric Bristow. Despite this, the doyen of Dutch darts still believes he’s capable of ending his career on the ultimate high.
“I absolutely believe I can still be World Champion again in one of my last two attempts,” Van Barneveld added.
“If you told me after my 2007 World Championship win over Phil [Taylor] that it would be my last World Championship then I would’ve said you were a fool, but in the last few years we have seen phenomenal players playing at an outstanding level.
My grandmother always said ‘if you believe then you can achieve anything you want’ and I still believe I can do this, but not for many more years. When I retire I will be 52 and I’m really looking forward to spending time with my family.”
There’s still 14 months before Van Barneveld calls time on an extraordinary career spanning three decades at the top, but he’ll be hoping to go out with a bang! He’s a gentlemen of the game, a wonderful ambassador for the sport, and another big title for Barney would be met with unanimous delight.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Raymond van Barneveld
PDC Televised Titles
2006, 2007 UK Open
2007 World Championship
2007 Las Vegas Desert Classic
2012 Grand Slam of Darts
2014 Premier League
2010, 2014, 2017, 2018 World Cup of Darts
1998, 1999, 2003, 2005 Lakeside Championship
2001, 2005 World Masters
1995, 2001, 2003, 2004 Zuiderduin Masters
2003, 2004 World Darts Trophy
2003, 2004, 2006 International Darts League
2007 Masters of Darts
Televised Nine-Dart Finishes
2006 Premier League
2009 World Championship
2010 World Championship
2010 Premier League
2010 World Matchplay