Raymond van Barneveld has spoken at length for the first time since the end of his darts career.

A long and glittering career ended in tears for the Dutch icon, with a World Championship first round defeat to Darin Young. Following an ill-advised interview with Sky Sports immediately after the game – mirroring a similar moment after he bowed out of the Premier League – there were concerns for his wellbeing. A much more composed van Barneveld spoke to Live Darts in Cardiff, and reflected on that Alexandra Palace anticlimax.

“In that moment, it felt like my heart had jumped out of my body. I was so gone, I couldn’t believe it.

“The whole year, I was struggling. But I was thinking I’d get it right at the Worlds.

“Then Darin Young beat me with that tops. I thought ‘is this it?'” van Barneveld said.

“That interview on Sky – not great, I know that – but it was the way I felt. I was so down, really depressed. I’m OK now. It cost me three or four weeks, but I said ‘Ray, you’ve got to move on. This is not the way people must remember you.’

“The PDC offered it, Sky offered it [delaying the interview].

“Remember, when I got relegated from the Premier League in Rotterdam, I said I was going to give up? Sometimes, I wish I’d done that.

“The things I said on Sky – it felt like I’d had a punch in the face, you’re dizzy, you don’t know what you’re saying. It was all stupid things to say.”

Pieter Verbeek/PV-Darts

Photo: Pieter Verbeek/PV-Darts

Moving on

Van Barneveld, who gave up his day job as a postman to pursue the darting dream decades ago, goes into 2020 as a retired professional darts player. It’s a big leap, but after making a New Year’s resolution to move on from the recent pain, the five-time world champion is certain that he is on the right path.

“For the first time in my career, playing darts for 35 years, I don’t belong to an organisation…it’s weird. I can make my own plans now.

“At the end, I think I made the right decision. I don’t want to enter tournaments and lose in the first or second rounds,” van Barneveld said.

“People…even Ted Hankey, tears in his eyes, saying ‘Raymond, you can’t give up, you can’t, you’re too young’. I said ‘Ted, I can’t take it any more, too many defeats’.”

Weighing in on the BDO

Whether Des Jacklin likes it or not, the BDO’s plight is a hot topic at the moment. The World Championship at the O2 Arena brought with it new controversy, and a slew of top players went through the exit door via Q-School this week.

“It doesn’t feel right. We all started at the BDO, apart from a couple of players. My love of the sport came from the BDO. That was the biggest organisation there was,” van Barneveld reflected.

“If you see it now, that doesn’t feel good. I feel sorry for [world champion] Wayne Warren.

“Then I’m thinking, it’s maybe in the future that there’s one organisation. And the PDC is the best organisation to be part of.”

Barney also had a message of hope, addressed to viewers and darts fans everywhere.

“This is a message for you guys. If you believe in yourself and you think you can play darts, you can do this.”

Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

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Author: Ed McCosh