RONNIE O’SULLIVAN has revealed how watching a video of Michael Jordan playing basketball for the Chicago Bulls acted as a turning point in his illustrious snooker career.

Before he won the first of a record-equaling seven world snooker titles in 2001, the Rocket spiraled into depression and went on a “wild bender” for six years after his dad went to prison for murder.

Ronnie Snr was jailed for life in 1992 for killing Bruce Bryan, a driver for East End gangster Charlie Kray, and served 18 years inside before being released in November 2010.

As John Higgins and Mark Williams won maiden world titles in 1998 and 2000 respectively, O'Sullivan realised he was falling behind his Class of ’92 contemporaries.

It was only after a chance conversation with a pal during a spell in rehab at the turn of the century he knew he had to quit the booze and drugs for good.

And he says watching footage of inspirational NBA legend Jordan helped him to properly turn things around.


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Speaking in a new two-hour Eurosport and discovery+ documentary called Seventh Heaven, O’Sullivan, 47, said: “From 19 to 25 – those were probably my worst years. I just found a way of getting through it.

“At the time, I knew I couldn’t compete with Higgins and Williams and all the guys who were disciplined. I pressed the self-destruct button and I went through some terrible times.

“When I went into rehab in 2000 that was when my career really started. I was focused on playing and trying to develop as a player.

“What changed for me was one day my mate sat down and he put a Michael Jordan video on.

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“I watched how hard he worked at his sport, how he devoted his life to it – eating well, going to bed early, and doing everything he could to make himself the best he could be.

“I was like, ‘Maybe I should try doing a bit of that myself’. Along the way I have learned what successful people do.

“That never came natural to me. Like Stephen Hendry was a machine. Steve Davis was a machine. They didn’t need someone to tell them to do the right thing.

“You need sometimes to learn. I wasn’t playing like a world champion which is what I wanted to be.”

  • Seventh Heaven premieres on Saturday, October 15 at 8pm on Eurosport 1 and discovery+. It will be also available on all catch-up and VOD services.

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