Current PDC world champion Peter Wright insists Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld could still have been winning major titles for another decade had they chosen not to retire, with ‘Snakebite’ admitting that the ‘inspiring’ pair have left a notable void on the darting circuit.
The two juggernauts locked horns for the first time since 2017 in a charity soft-tip showdown last Thursday, with Barney recovering from 6-3 down to prevail 7-6 with a 119 average to Taylor’s 118, but more importantly, the clash raised a whopping £15,000 for charity in the fight against coronavirus.
In an exclusive interview with Phil Lanning for Colossus Bets, Wright paid tribute to the decorated duo and insists their incredible natural talent would have seen them continue to challenge for major honours for the foreseeable future.
“Phil and Raymond could be winning major titles for another decade,” Wright claimed. “They are just so naturally talented. It’s got nothing to do with their ability why they have retired. It’s the travelling that eventually has been too much for them, the PDC circuit is gruelling.
“If they didn’t have to play for ranking and just in the UK majors, they’d still be in regular semi-finals and finals and winning. I miss them both being around on the circuit. It always gave me a huge lift to be playing against them or in their company, it was inspiring.”
Taylor retired from the sport in a blaze of glory, with the highlight of his final year seeing him clinch a 16th World Matchplay title, which he scooped courtesy of beating Wright in an emotional showpiece at the Winter Gardens.
In his final tournament as a PDC professional, ‘The Power’ progressed to the World Championship final, only to be denied a 17th world crown by inspired debutant Rob Cross, although it still provided a memorable farewell for the Stoke-on-Trent legend.
By comparison, Van Barneveld’s swansong was underwhelming. The doyen of Dutch darts reached a World Series final during the summer and featured in the Players Championship quarter-finals in his penultimate televised appearance.
However, the five-time world champion bowed out from the sport following a first round exit at Alexandra Palace, yet Snakebite believes the 52-year-old would have regained his spark. “I know Raymond had a tough last year or so, but he put himself under so much pressure,” Wright added.
“He would have played himself back into form in the end. When he was in the right place mentally, he could beat anyone. Just look at those classic matches when Raymond beat Michael van Gerwen, he knew how to win big matches.”
Photo Credit: Evert Zomer NL