LEGEND BARNEY IN QUIT U-TURN
Dutch superstar will play on despite shock early retirement claim
DUTCH legend Raymond van Barneveld has done a sensational U-turn on his decision to quit the oche.
The five-times World Champion announced his retirement from the sport in a tearful farewell live on Sky Sports on Thursday night - saying he “did not want this pain anymore”.
RVB, 51, had just lost 7-1 to Michael van Gerwen in Rotterdam and been relegated from the Unibet Premier League.
But within just an hour of that revelation, Barney backtracked to reveal he wants to go for a sixth World Championship and end his career in a blaze of glory at the Ally Pally.
Van Barneveld said: "In my private life there have been so many troubles, and as a dart player you try not to but you take all that with you on stage.
“I was humbled that I was given the chance to play in the Premier League this year and really wanted to show everybody the true Barney, but it was only glimpses that I could give.
“My personal problems got the better of me and I was always catching up to my opponents on stage. Yesterday all those emotions came together and I couldn't handle that at that moment.
“I felt ashamed on stage in front of my family, my friends and the Barney Army. I felt I let everyone down and that pain was very hard to deal with.
“In the heat of the moment I only wanted to never feel that again, but I realise that I should not speak out like that when I feel such raw emotion.
“I want to end my career at Alexandra Palace during one final World Championship.
“I hope people understand the difficult times my family and I have been going through and I need to get my head together.
“I will take a couple of days off for this and then try to compete as well as I can in the floor tournaments out of the spotlight in the coming weeks.”
That defeat to MVG came just 24 hours after another 7-1 drubbing at the hands of Daryl Gurney, which sealed his elimination from the competition at the halfway stage.
Just an hour after announcing he was quitting on Sky Sports, a statement from Van Barneveld's management was published on his official Twitter account, revealing the icon has agreed to “take a couple of days to clear the mind and think about the future.”
Now he has announced he will continue to compete on the PDC circuit until the end of the season before finally calling time on his illustrious career.
After dropping out of the world's top 32 following this year's UK Open, Barney climbed back to 30th in the Order of Merit by finishing runner-up in a Players Championship event earlier this month.
That run offered renewed hope in his quest to qualify for the remaining ranked majors this year, including December's World Championship - which has been the Dutchman's main target since initially announcing his retirement plans last November.
Van Barneveld is among the list of entries for Players Championship 9 & 10 in Barnsley and is set to make his return on April 6.
Sky Sports pundit and Barney’s pal Wayne Mardle predicted this outcome on Thursday night. He said: “I think he’s being reactionary to the results. He’s taken the defeat last night and tonight to heart. I just think the emotions are getting the better of him. I hope I’m right, I don’t want him to retire.”
ROB CROSS admitted he felt like a “movie villain” after grabbing a vital win despite a chorus of boos from the Dutch fans.
The 2018 World Champion beat home star Jeffrey de Zwaan 7-4 in Rotterdam to go back to the top of the Unibet Premier League.
Voltage was given some serious stick by the 11,000 sea of orange red-hot lava in the volcanic atmosphere of the Rotterdam Ahoy.
He said: “The crowd really liked me! I thought my ear drums were going to burst, a bit of booing. I thought I handled it well even though I felt like a movie villain.
“Jeffrey came out and played really strong for the fans and rightfully so they deserved it.
“Jeffrey is an incredible talent and he will go far. The fans probably made me a bit more aggressive, I didn’t want to bow out badly.
“Last night I switched off at the wrong times and I paid the price. But this time I made sure I didn’t make the same mistake.
“Tonight was a real graft for me, I had to work very hard to get my game out and deal with the crowd but I enjoyed it.
“After yesterday’s performance I wanted shooting but I feel better now and I’m pleased to be back level at the top of the table.”
Peter Wright’s hopes of finishing in the top four took another massive blow with a 7-5 defeat to Gerwyn Price - after missing two darts to grab a draw.
Daryl Gurney completed an astonishing turnaround in a week from relegation candidate to making the top four Play-Offs.
It’s now three wins in succession thanks to a 7-3 win over Mensur Suljovic.
Words: Phil Lanning Pictures: Taylor Lanning
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