Raymond van Barneveld still believes he’s capable of winning a sixth World Championship title as he prepares to kick off his penultimate Alexandra Palace campaign next week.
Van Barneveld is only one of three players in darting history to be crowned a five-time world champion, but the 51-year-old announced in November that he will retire from competitive action following the 2019/2020 William Hill World Championship.
The legendary Dutchman won four Lakeside titles between 1998 and 2005, before claiming PDC World Championship glory on his debut in 2007; defeating Phil Taylor 7-6 in arguably the greatest game of darts ever played.
Van Barneveld also became the first player to achieve a nine-dart finish in the PDC World Championship; landing the perfect leg in his quarter-final clash against Jelle Klaasen in 2009. RvB repeated these heroics against Brendan Dolan twelve months later, but he insists he’s still got unfinished business at the Ally Pally.
“I absolutely believe I can still be World Champion again in one of my last two attempts. 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,” Van Barneveld said.
“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. I don’t want my career to fizzle out because I still think I’ve got another one or two titles left in me,” he added.
The five-time world champion has claimed 29 PDC titles throughout a magnificent career, including successive UK Open crowns, four World Cup of Darts wins, the Grand Slam of Darts and most recently- the 2014 Premier League.
The Den Haag ace has played an instrumental role in the growth of darts during the Netherlands and the astonishing reception he’s received in recent Premier League outings in Rotterdam typifies the manner in which he’s idolised.
Van Barneveld will face either Matthew Edgar or Darius Labanauskas in his Ally Pally opener, which could set up a potential third-round showdown with Adrian Lewis. RvB is also in the same quarter of the draw as Michael van Gerwen, with the pair having locked horns in each of the last three World Championships.
However, Barney- who is currently ranked 17th on the PDC Order of Merit, explained the reasons behind his decision and his plan for the final chapter of his glittering career in 2019.
“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],” Van Barneveld admitted.
“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.
“When I retire I will be 52 and I’m really looking to spending time with my family. 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.”
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC