Ronnie O'Sullivan will celebrate 30 years at the summit of professional snooker in January, but the game's greatest player admits he has been fortunate to have been afforded the opportunities in life to reach green baize utopia.
The six-times world champion holds the vast majority of the key records as he begins his 30th season ranked at number three in the world, but it his speed, flamboyance and precision of play that has attracted millions of bewitched fans to the sport over the past four decades.
- Trump: Why O'Sullivan will be at top for another decade
- 'I’m happy with how things are' - O'Sullivan content with his schedule
- What does O'Sullivan have to do to win seventh world title? Tony Knowles knows
Northern Ireland Open
Can Allen emulate fellow Northern Irish icon Higgins by winning world title?
The numbers stacked up by O'Sullivan are quite astonishing since he set out on his unprecedented golden sojourn at the age of 16 in 1992.
- 37 – most ranking titles won by any player in history achieved in claiming 2020 World Championship
- 15 – record number of maximums made in competition
- Five minutes and eight seconds – fastest competitive maximum compiled at 1997 World Championship
- 17 years and 358 days – youngest winner of a ranking event at 1993 UK Championship
- 19 years and 69 days – youngest winner of the Masters in 1995
- 1000 – first player to reach 1,000 career centuries at 2019 Players Championship
- 29 – record number of consecutive appearances at World Championship between 1993 and 2021
- 58 – record number of ranking final appearances achieved at 2021 Tour Championship final
- 556 – record number of points scored without reply in 6-0 win over Ricky Walden in 2014 Masters quarter-final lasting 58min 31sec
- 7 – record number of UK titles
- 7 – record number of Masters titles
- 20 – record number of triple crown titles
O'Sullivan made his first century at the age of 10 and his first 147 five years later, but shows no signs of slowing up with Judd Trump recently predicting that he has another decade at the top if he has the desire to continue.
"I feel privileged to have had the opportunities that I've had," O'Sullivan told Eurosport.
So I can't say that I've been unlucky. I've obviously had to take advantage of those privileges, but they were given to me and I've probably had a much better head start than a lot of young kids.
"I was fortunate that my mum and dad did okay for themselves and were able to pay for my cab fares to the club, my table time and allow me to go away at weekends to play in competitions.
"Some kids don't have that luxury. I think in that respect, I had a good opportunity, but had to make the most of it."
#OnThisDay: Ronnie O’Sullivan’s record 147 from 1997
O'Sullivan admits one of the career highlights was celebrating lifting his sixth world title alongside his partner Laila Rouass at the Crucible after an 18-8 win over Kyren Wilson in the final.
"We had such a good night," he recalled. "After the final, we went back to the hotel, there was about 30 or 40 people in the hotel.
"We had a fantastic evening. It was probably the best night I've ever had.
We had kebabs, beer and sat outside until about four in the morning. (Former world number two) Tony Knowles was there and a few of my friends from Liverpool were down. We had such a laugh. I'd love to be able to experience that again.
O'Sullivan has won three of his six world titles since meeting Laila in 2012 and added: "Having a single mind makes life a little bit easier just to focus on what you need to do, but when you are in a relationship, you want to make time for each other.
'One of the best shots you will ever witness' from on-fire O’Sullivan
"You have to compromise, but then you get the benefits of being able to share your times and moments. It is nice.
"I love spending time with Laila. We have a great little unit, a great little set-up and it is a happy place.
"It is nice to come home and there is a buzz about the house. When she is away working, you miss that."
The Northern Ireland Open is the third ranking event of the season and is LIVE on Eurosport and Quest between 9-17 October as part of the Home Nations Series including the English Open, Scottish Open and Welsh Open
Northern Ireland Open
'One of the all-time greats' - Allen pays tribute to Higgins after Northern Ireland Open win
Northern Ireland Open
'He's done it the hard way' - O'Sullivan praises Allen after Northern Ireland Open win