Snooker

'Ronnie v Hendry like comparing Ali and Tyson' - White weighs up the greatest

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Stephen Hendry, Ronnie O'Sullivan

Image credit: Reuters

ByEurosport UK
12/05/2020 at 09:17 | Updated 12/05/2020 at 10:17

Speaking on Eurosport's new snooker vodcast, Jimmy White said Ronnie O’Sullivan is the greatest player of all time, comparing him to Muhammad Ali.

Ali is widely regarded as the greatest boxer of all time, while O’Sullivan’s five world championships, seven Masters and seven UK Championships gives him a record 19 triple crown titles.

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With snooker postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic for the foreseeable future, Eurosport has announced a two-week celebration of snooker in its place, including a new vodcast shown on Eurosport 1 on Saturday at 2pm. Snooker fans will also be able to enjoy all nine episodes in full in audio form on a new podcast: The Break.

Subscribe to The Break on your podcast platform of choice now

Speaking to Andy Goldstein and Neal Foulds about who was the greatest snooker player of all time, White was quick to plump for O’Sullivan.

He said: “Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O’Sullivan are between them the best in the world but O’Sullivan is number one, no doubt about that. The other two are even.

“Steve Davis as an unbelievable snooker player, and Stephen Hendry took it to the next level, which I never thought would be done again, but then I saw Ronnie O’Sullivan come along and do that again.

The 147s, the one thousand century breaks, just the way he creates chances on the table.

He then compared O’Sullivan and Hendry's impact to the disruption caused in boxing by Ali and Mike Tyson.

“When you talk about Ronnie and Stephen, it’s like comparing Mohamed Ali and Mike Tyson. Obviously, between them they’ve won the most tournaments in the game," he said.

White: Even Hendry would tell you O’Sullivan is the greatest

00:02:09

“In the 90s with Hendry, there weren’t that many players around so it was easier to dominate - and then all of a sudden, all these great players showed up, John Higgins, Mark Williams, Paul Hunter, and Ronnie still dominated, which is why I think Ronnie is the greatest player ever. I think Stephen Hendry would turn around and say O’Sullivan is the greatest of all time.”

White acknowledged that there were plenty of great players who were held back by the simple presence of O’Sullivan during their professional careers.

“We need to mention John Higgins and Mark Williams. They’ve won seven world titles between them, but just imagine if Ronnie O’Sullivan wasn’t around how many more tournaments they would have won?

“O’Sullivan has stopped them winning so many big Triple Crown events.”

On Trump: We’ll be considering him as one of the greats

White expects that Judd Trump will be the next of the modern crop to be considered a true great, given his exceptional 2019. He expects more to come from him.

'Best snooker I've seen' - Jimmy White hails Judd Trump's 2019 masterclass

“He’s the next person we’d put in that category. He’s won one world title, the masters and the UK Championship. He’s won more in one season this year than anyone has ever."

While Trump trails O’Sullivan, Hendry and Davis in number of titles won, White nevertheless expects him to narrow the gap over the course of the coming decade.

“He’s showing all the hallmarks for being a great great player. I expect we’ll be considering him as one of the greats in 10 years’ time.”

White also acknowledged another legendary figure, Alex Higgins, and explained the contradiction between his ‘Hurricane’ nickname and his surprisingly slow play.

He did all the things against the textbook but as a snooker player, he was phenomenal. He had so many shots in his locker. There was so much excitement watching him play and make no mistake: because of Alex Higgins, that’s why snooker is so popular today.

“He was named ‘Hurricane’ Higgins after a newspaper journalist named him that after the ‘H’ in Higgins,” White recalled.

“But, he was very quick running round the table but on his actual shot he wasn’t quick at all – he was about 20 seconds. But because he ran around the table he looked fast.”

Jimmy White: Alex Higgins made snooker popular

00:01:02

Watch the full vodcast episode on Eurosport 1 and Eurosport Player at 2pm on Saturday.

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