In a wide-ranging discussion with Andy Goldstein about the icons and rivals who have played a part in O'Sullivan's great career, the five-time World Championship winner said that Trump is now in a position to pick up the baton from the 'Class of 92' - O'Sullivan, Mark Williams and John Higgins - and forge his own era of dominance.
Trump would have been defending his first world title at the Crucible this week but following the postponement of the event due to the coronavirus pandemic, Eurosport has announced a two-week celebration of snooker in its place, including a new vodcast, which airs every day at 2pm on Eurosport 1. Snooker fans will also be able to enjoy all nine episodes in full in audio form on a new podcast, The Break.
We have selected some of the best extracts below - including Ronnie's thoughts on Trump, Higgins, Williams, Stephen Hendry, Jimmy White and Steve Davis - but listen to the episode above for Ronnie's full conversation with Andy Goldstein. And tune into Eurosport 1 every day for the snooker vodcast.
Ronnie on Judd Trump carrying the torch for the next generation
Without a doubt, he plays a different game, he plays a brilliant game, the power play. He plays shots that no one else can play. He’s got the killer instinct, he’s hungry. He’s proven that after winning the World Championships. We all knew it wasn’t a fluke but there’s people out there saying “can he back it up?” He’s come in this season and he’s won six ranking events which is more than any other player has had to do. I know there’s more ranking events now than ever but still to win six is a fantastic achievement. So, for me, he’s a complete player now. He’s just going to get stronger and stronger. It’s like when Hendry came along, and he was pretty much head and shoulders above the rest. I think that Judd is head and shoulders above everybody else at the moment.
'We'll probably never see it again' - Jimmy on Trump's 2019 Worlds win
Ronnie on Trump’s chances of winning multiple World titles
Easy. In ten years, Judd will have a problem that I’m having now. There’ll be a few young ones come up behind him and he’ll have few battle scars and they’ll keep pushing up. Eventually, if you’re not mentally up for it or you’re just a little bit off you start to lose matches. So, he’s got the next seven to ten years to dominate really. I think it was a lot harder for Trump coming through than it was for Hendry coming through because Hendry didn’t really, apart from Davis, Jimmy on his day, there wasn’t anyone there that was going to frighten him really. Whereas with Trump when he came on you still had Hendry, you’ve got Higgins, Williams, me, Ding. It was hard to come in and dominate from that point on,but I think players have developed a little bit more slowly now. So, you learn your trade and every player gets ten years at 20-30 or 30-40. Judd’s started at 30 and I think he’ll go on to 40 playing some fantastic snooker.
No one, no one. Well I mean if we played five times, I might win one, twice possibly, but he’s just going to get stronger and stronger and I think the best thing to happen to Judd is his brother. If he hadn’t had his brother there maybe Judd wouldn’t have made the changes that he’s made. He owes a lot to his brother and he’ll be the best thing to happen to Judd. I’m glad his brother came along now and not 10 years ago!
Ronnie on the influence of Davis, White and Hendry
Growing up I used to look at them and think they’re the best players around. You watch Steve Davis, he was like a robot, you never thought he was going to make a mistake. Jimmy White – the most exciting player you’ll ever see and could play every shot in the book. So, they were the two yardsticks, if you like, for me growing up. But if I was to watch them playing now in some of their matches, which I do sometimes, I look at it and just think the standard really wasn’t that high. So, it’s just all about perception and people raising the game to a higher level. But at the time, that was the highest level. But then this young Scottish guy Stephen Hendry came along, and he’s probably taken the game to as high... It would be hard to say that anyone has taken the game on further than Hendry. Hendry I still think if he was in his prime, we were all in our prime, he would still be winning many, many titles. So, you look at Davis and Jimmy, yeah fantastic players, but probably not good enough to stay with the current breed of players.
Ronnie O'Sullivan: The advice my dad gave me to help me become the GOAT
Ronnie on the ‘Class of ‘92'
I knew Mark WIlliams, we used to play each other quite a lot on the Pro-Am circuit. When we were 10, 11, 12,13 we used to go to Hemsby for junior tournaments,so we knew of each other. But the first time I’d seen John Higgins he was fourteen, so I hadn’t heard of him. The first I’d heard was that this Scottish kid had nearly had a 147 in the home internationals. So that was the buzz going round. I didn’t even know what John Higgins looked like but after we heard that we had to watch him play, and watching him play I thought this kid looks super, super good. Then from that moment on, I knew John Higgins was going to be a class, class player. So that was my first encounter with John Higgins but the rivalry from that day really has been on between the three of us. There was a lot of good players around, but we were hungry, we had the desire. We loved it, we wanted it. For a lot of snooker players,it was just a bit of a lifestyle, they used to go round there and have a bit of a laugh and a joke. But we took our business seriously. But I think it helped that the three of us came through together because I think we all motivated each other to try and do better. If one of us was doing well it would always spur the other one on to do well. So, it was a healthy rivalry really.
Snooker vodcast: Ronnie O'Sullivan reveals his greatest rival
Ronnie on the added excitement of playing Williams or Higgins
Of course, we’ve been playing each other for nigh on thirty years. It’s always nice to see Nadal play Federer or Federer play Djokovic. Their careers, and their ages, and their statistics are so evenly matched that none of us have got anything to prove and the chances are that it’s nice to see greats play each other I suppose. So, I get why it’s exciting.
Ronnie on Mark Selby
I always thought Mark was a great match player. I watched him play and I could tell he was going to be a good player. But I see a lot of his faults, I had the same faults in my game that I think he had in his game and I knew how much of a struggle it was for me to try and play with those faults. One day you thought you were great and the next you were terrible, and that up-and-down inconsistency can mentally get to you. So, while I knew he was a fantastic player I never expected him to be able to go on and be as successful as he was. At one stage I said I didn’t think he’d ever win the world title because to win the world title you really can’t afford to have a bad session. But what Mark’s been able to do is that he’s able to play bad but he’s also able to make the other player play badly. I was never able to do that. If I played badly, balls were all there ready in the open and the opponent would just hoover them up. Whereas when Mark was playing badly there’d be balls on cushions, and you’d think where do I go from here? So, he was always able to play himself and stay in the matches. So, he found a way to still be able to win when you’re playing badly, and I never thought snooker could be played like that. I know Mark doesn’t like playing like that but if you sometimes have to do that to get the result and get to the next round you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do and no one in the history of the game has been better at that than Mark Selby. So, you have to take your hat off to him really.
Ronnie on his main rivals going forward
I don’t really put myself in to have a rival. You want them to be similar eras, it’s hard for me to be a rival with Ding or Trump because they’ve got 14 years on me. I just always think that I can still give Selby a game, I can still give Murphy a game, I still think I could probably give Neil Robertson a game because the age difference is not that different to me, John Higgins and Williams. But I just think when you look at the younger ones it’s a little bit harder because they’re so hungry and they’ve got so much desire. Every match that they play a John Higgins or a Mark Williams or a Shaun Murphy or a Neil Robertson, they might lose but it’s just a learning curve for them. So, it’s just making them stronger and stronger. Like me playing Hendry at the end of his career, I was getting a lot from it where it was doing him no good. I think eventually you get to the stage where it’s hard for you to keep battling away. So, for me my situation is just to keep playing for as long as I can really and hopefully, I can still win a few tournaments every now and again.
Watch the snooker vodcast every day on Eurosport 1 and Eurosport Player at 2pm.