Five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld is set to make a sensational return to professional darts next year, after announcing plans to attend PDC Qualifying School in 2021 as he bids to regain a place on the circuit.
Van Barneveld bowed out from the sport following his opening round defeat to Darin Young at last year’s World Championship, but the Dutchman is now set to compete at PDC Qualifying School for the first time next January.
The 53-year-old endured a disappointing farewell year in 2019, and having suffered elimination from the Premier League in Rotterdam last March, he announced his intention to retire immediately – only to reverse his decision the following day.
Barney did enjoy a run to the final of the NZ Darts Masters on the World Series circuit and also registered quarter-final appearances at the Players Championship Finals and World Series Finals, but one of the sport’s most successful stars insists he’s still got unfinished business.
The Dutch legend enjoyed a glittering PDC career after crossing the darting divide in 2006, racking up 29 PDC titles, including a host of major televised triumphs. The obvious highlight was his famous 2007 World Championship success, plus wins in the 2012 Grand Slam and 2014 Premier League.
The five-time world champion also scooped two UK Open titles and the Las Vegas Desert Classic, whilst leading the Netherlands to four World Cup of Darts crowns, although his last individual major title came in the 2014 Premier League, courtesy of victory over Van Gerwen.
Ahead of his return, Van Barneveld has linked up with former manager Ben de Kok, who also works alongside current PDC world number 24 Jeffrey de Zwaan. The pair enjoy a close friendship, with RvB mentoring ‘The Black Cobra’ in the early infancy of his career.
“It’s very simple. I miss it. I miss it terribly,” Van Barneveld explained to RTL News. “I think the decision [to retire] was the right one, but I have now had a lot of time to think about it. Then I realised I miss it terribly.
“I now have a unique opportunity to realise my dream and to work in a team. I think that is the solution for me. Because I haven’t been myself for the past two or three years, you don’t always make the right decisions.
“Your head is haunted and you’re a nightmare for everyone. But that’s different now. I’m looking forward to it. I signed for three years, so we have the chance to at least get a tour card for three years. If I want to get my tour card, I will have to do my best.”
Photo Credit: Official PDC