Raymond van Barneveld has announced that he intends to retire with immediate effect following his emotional Premier League exit on an extraordinary night in Rotterdam on Thursday evening.
Van Barneveld was condemned to elimination in his 14th and final Premier League campaign following a 7-1 defeat to Daryl Gurney on Wednesday night and the five-time world champion faced fellow countryman Michael van Gerwen in his 210th and final Premier League appearance.
Barney received an incredible reception from his adoring ‘Barney Army’ at the Ahoy Arena, but the legendary Dutchman suffered his second 7-1 defeat in as many days, with Van Gerwen producing a blistering display to maintain top spot in the table.
Van Barneveld was due to retire from the sport after the 2020 PDC World Championship at the end of the year, but he has brought forward his departure after his exit from the Premier League.
“I’ve made a decision, I’m done now,” said Van Barneveld. “I’ve been going through pain every week for the last three to four years; I don’t want the pain anymore.
“I’m not good enough and I don’t have the energy to start from scratch again. I could say to myself ‘okay Ray take some time off’ but there is no time. There’s no light for me. I try, I try, I try but I never get the feeling of ‘hey Ray we’re back’ apart from winning the World Cup with Michael.
“I’m okay with this decision, I’m relieved. I’m still a proud man and I want to thank everyone who has helped me all these years but I’m done. That’s it,” added the Dutchman, who has won 29 PDC titles throughout a glittering career, including two UK Opens, four World Cups, as well as the Grand Slam and Premier League.
Van Gerwen was red-hot in the opening stages and raced into a 4-0 lead, before Barney opened his account with a fine 13-dart leg. However, Van Gerwen regained his handsome cushion with a clinical 68 kill, before closing out victory with successive 14-dart legs to triumph in emphatic style.
Rob Cross defied a partisan home crowd as he recovered from 3-1 down to defeat contender Jeffrey de Zwaan in a high-quality contest. ‘Voltage’ relinquished a 5-1 lead against Suljovic on Wednesday but the roles were reversed tonight as Cross crashed in EIGHT maximums en route to a fine comeback win.
De Zwaan made an electrifying start, kicking off with a 12-dart opening salvo before following that up with a spectacular 151 finish. Despite this, Cross rattled in seven maximums in as many legs to seal a 7-4 success with a 94.46 average, as he sits level on points with ‘The Green Machine’ at the summit.
Elsewhere, Gerwyn Price returned to winning ways as he edged out Peter Wright 7-5 in a topsy-turvy tussle. Both players appeared to struggle with the elements on stage but ‘The Iceman’ produced under pressure to halt his three-game losing streak and triumph with a 94.58 average.
The Grand Slam champion kicked off proceedings with a stunning 147 checkout, but Wright responded with finishes of 118, 74 and 160 in consecutive legs to lead 3-2. However, with the scores locked at 5-5, Price produced his second 11-darter of the contest to claim a point, before capitalising on two missed darts from ‘Snakebite’ to prevail via tops.
James Wade continued his fine form as he defeated Michael Smith 7-4 in the evening’s finale. ‘The Machine’ averaged over 103 as he shared the spoils with Dimitri Van den Bergh on Wednesday and the nine-time major winner posted another ton-topping average to dispose of ‘Bully Boy’.
Smith came agonisingly close to landing a nine-darter in the opening leg, but maintained his strong start to lead 3-1. Nevertheless, Wade recovered magnificently; winning six of the remaining seven legs to prevail with a 102.44 average and preserve third spot in the table.
Meanwhile, Daryl Gurney sealed his third consecutive Premier League win after closing out a convincing 7-3 win over Mensur Suljovic in the night’s opener. The Northern Irishman was in danger of elimination prior to this week’s double-header, but now he finds himself in a top four position.
Suljovic came back from 5-1 down to defeat Rob Cross on Wednesday and he again endured a sluggish start, as Gurney raced into an early 2-0 lead. Suljovic levelled up proceedings with back-to-back 14-dart legs, but Gurney won five of the next six legs to triumph with a 98.28 average and six 180s.
UPDATE FROM MANAGER JACO VAN BODEGOM
Van Barneveld’s manager Jaco van Bodegom later Tweeted that the Dutch hero would take time to consider his future following the disappointment of his Rotterdam defeats.
Judgement Night – Thursday March 28
Daryl Gurney 7-3 Mensur Suljovic
Gerwyn Price 7-5 Peter Wright
Rob Cross 7-4 Jeffrey de Zwaan
Michael van Gerwen 7-1 Raymond van Barneveld
James Wade 7-4 Michael Smith