World heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and football icon David Beckham have led the tributes to Ronnie O’Sullivan after the snooker ‘GOAT’ secured a record-equalling seventh World Championship title at the Crucible Theatre.
O’Sullivan moved level with Stephen Hendry for the most world titles in the modern era as he defeated Judd Trump 18-13 on Monday. The 46-year-old has become the oldest world champion in history, eclipsing the record set by Ray Reardon who was 45 when he won his sixth title aged 45.
On Monday afternoon, Trump won six of eight frames to make the score 14-11 before O’Sullivan sealed his famous win and the £500,000 prize as he took four of the evening’s first six frames. The 'Rocket' shared an emotional embrace with his opponent at the end of the match before greeting his children, who ran into the arena to share his historic moment.
Many of Britain’s biggest stars sent their congratulations to O’Sullivan following his historic achievement, with WBC champion Tyson Fury sharing a photo of the two men along with the caption: ‘big congratulations pal. 2Goats together’. O’Sullivan shared the message to his story and thanked Fury for his support.
David Beckham also wrote: "7 time world champion at 46 years old on my 47th birthday. G.O.A.T. Rocket Ronnie," while Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher shared an image of himself and his son with O’Sullivan along with the caption: "GOAT."
Carragher’s full post read: “@ronnie a record equalling 7 times snooker world champion for the greatest player we have ever seen, with more to come!” He added a goat and rocket emoji for good measure.
O'Sullivan's famous win will undoubtedly add more fuel to the debate regarding the greatest snooker player of all time. The 39-time ranking title winner holds almost every major record in the sport and will finish the season atop the world rankings.
“We can share it for a year,” O’Sullivan told BBC Sport when asked about drawing level with Hendry’s record. “I tried to be as relaxed as I could, but that is probably the greatest result I've had against somebody like Judd [Trump].
“I’ve never bothered about records. When you get them, it's kind of nice. I don't have targets. I've loved every tournament this year, I've just loved playing.
“I like to win, but it's not the be-all and end-all. The Crucible brings out the worst in me. It's probably not the best idea but we'll probably go again next year.”
The seven-time world champion appears to be suggesting he will pursue an eighth in 2023, while his praise towards Trump was certainly warranted after his opponent battled back a 12-5 deficit make it 14-11. O’Sullivan subsequently lost his first session of the Championship as Trump performed at his very best to suggest he could pull off the second-biggest comeback in tournament history.
The 32-year-old nailed a sensational 107 en route to taking five of the day’s first six frames. However, O’Sullivan eased the mounting pressure as he put up several large runs following some errors by Trump, who was going for broke.
Is Ronnie O'Sullivan the snooker GOAT? Let us know in the comments section.
Trump closed the gap to 17-13 following a record-breaking 109th century of the tournament before O’Sullivan finished him off. Trump said: “I was just glad to make a match out of it.
“It's been a pleasure to share a table with him. It's an amazing achievement and he's the best player of all time - he keeps getting better and better.
“His determination and dedication are clear to see. He's been the best player in this tournament by quite a distance.”