"Suddenly I had tens of thousands of emails, including from women" - Raymond van Barneveld looks back on breakthrough in late 1990s

Raymond van Barneveld has been in the upper echelons of the darting world for some 30 years. Recently, the 57-year-old Dutchman looked back on some crucial moments of his career.

Van Barneveld broke through to the general public in 1995 when he reached the final of the BDO World Championship. "I was a mailman and dreamed of a career as a professional and to become a world champion," Van Barneveld reflects on the podcast Dartpraat. "Then I played against Richie Burnett and all of Holland was in an uproar. That tournament was very important for me. Then I said to myself: if you can come second, you can also become world champion."

Three years later, Van Barneveld became a world champion, getting revenge on Richie Burnett in the process. "The first world title totally changed my life, of course," he says. "With my hobby, I was able to make my dream come true."

During his time with the BDO, Van Barneveld picked up four world titles before he made the move to the PDC in 2006. "That may sound crazy but when you go to the PDC, you do it for one man and that is Phil Taylor. To then beat him in the final is a dream. They are World Championship finals, I know that. But that's what made you guys, for example, sit here now. Otherwise that would never have been possible."

Fast forward to now and Van Barneveld hhas become one of the elder statesmen of the Pro Tour. The difference with the younger generation is great, especially the amount of messages they post on social media. "In the old days, you didn't have that at all. I can remember when I had my first laptop. I took that with me to Lakeside and then I could get on the Internet. I had tens of thousands of e-mails and it really wasn't normal. People wanting to offer me something or wish me luck, sometimes women. Where did it all come from?" He recalls. "A tip I always give to younger darters: have a vision. If you want to play good darts with your friends, go for it. But if you want to make steps and you want to become the best of the best, you will have to take into account that you will have to deny yourself a lot. Can everyone handle that? I say adamantly no, because it's really not simple."

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