Masters 2017: Ronnie O’Sullivan wants to emulate Lionel Messi

Masters 2017: Ronnie O’Sullivan wants to emulate Lionel Messi

Ahead of the tournament which began today, the World Number 13 told reporters he wants to give back to the fans exciting snooker - not just a title.

Molly Hudson

For most people, even those who may not be fans of snooker Ronnie O’Sullivan is a recognisable figure, not just for his technical ability on the snooker table, but also his personality, something his competitors can sometimes be criticised of lacking.

Similarly, Lionel Messi is recognised on a larger scale throughout the world due to his incredible ability and success. Now O’Sullivan says he wants to deliver “entertainment as well” as he looks to clinch a record-breaking seventh Masters Title at Alexandra Palace.

Aiming to hit the heights

"I have put on some magnificent performances - performances I am very proud of” O’Sullivan said in an interview with BBC Sport prior to the tournament.

Sometimes people say you can't play like that and win. Well, Michael van Gerwen has proved you can, Lionel Messi proves you can, Tiger Woods does, Roger Federer does. I want to try to be one of them.”

He began his quest for the crown with a nail-biting victory over Liang Wenbo of China, an early challenge for ‘The Rocket’, one of a number of exciting Asian prospects and the recent winner of the English Open - his first major tournament victory.

Already an entertainer

O’Sullivan may have only now voiced his aim to be as exciting and entertaining as the likes of Michael van Gerwen and Messi, but for many he has been taking on the role of superstar in the snooker world for years. After recently breaking Stephen Hendry’s all-time century record with his 776th, the numbers back up what has been a truly incredible career from an interesting character different from many that pick up a cue.

Just as football fans dread the day Messi will hang up his boots for the final time, snooker fans feel the same about O’Sullivan. But after his victory over Wenbo, he told BBC Sport: "I don't see much grassroots coming through. I can play until I'm 50."

Time after time he seems to find his form and concentration at the biggest tournaments in the crucial moments and he will need to do that once again next week if he is to lift the trophy a seventh time.