Ronnie O’Sullivan was full of praise for John Higgins on Saturday night at the Northern Ireland Open and the Wizard says that the Rocket’s comments mean more to him than titles, hundred breaks of 147s.
Higgins was in superb form in his 6-2 win over Yan Bingtao in the Belfast semi-final, winning six frames on the spin with a half-century in each.
The Scot has booked himself a place in Sunday’s final against Mark Allen and he will be full of confidence after some incredible praise from his old rival.
O’Sullivan told Eurosport: ‘John is very clinical, but as a snooker player you cannot play snooker any better than that. It was unbelievable snooker.
‘I am baffled when people say they want to play John Higgins. You don’t want to play John Higgins.
‘It’s like playing [Lionel] Messi, I don’t want to play against Lionel Messi. I don’t want to play against Roger Federer. If he’s playing well like tonight, I’m going to be a spectator.
‘If I’m in Bingtao’s corner, don’t worry about it. No-one else can play snooker like that so it’s never going to happen again, unless you play John again.
‘It is something you can’t really teach. He has been like that since he was a kid, so most players on the circuit would say he’s the pros’ pro.
‘If you want to be another snooker player, I would choose to be John Higgins.’
It was the highest praise from O’Sullivan and it clearly touched Higgins, who was thrilled to receive it.
Asked whether comments like that mean more when they come from the Rocket, Higgins told Metro newspaper: ‘Yeah, without a doubt it does.
‘If the greatest player, in my eyes, that’s ever held a cue can say those nice things about you it means more than all your titles, your hundred breaks, 147s, whatever.
‘If one of your peers…it’s like something akin to the Player of the Year in football, the Player’s Player of the Year, voted for by the rest of the players, I’m sure that probably means more to them because it’s the rest of the players voting.
‘When you’ve got someone like Ronnie speaking like that about you…we’ve been great rivals over the years, but that means everything.’
O’Sullivan continued on Eurosport, with a bashful Higgins beside him, saying: ‘He’s not very good at taking compliments but we all know that he is the guvnor, on the circuit, all the boys know that he’s the pro’s pro.
‘I might be a bit potty, go for my shots, Judd does this and that, but this geezer is unbelievable. He’s a legend of this game.’
Higgins plays Allen on Sunday’s final in two sessions at 1pm and 7pm in a best of 17.
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