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A six-time world champion and multimillionaire, O’Sullivan describes himself as “semi-retired”, despite being one of the most successful players in the history of snooker. Known for his unpredictable temperament and outspoken views, the Rocket has received many warnings for his actions over the years, but that has not stopped him from causing controversy. He also risked the fury of Brexiteers when he appeared to plaster outspoken views on the historic decision to leave the EU on social media.
Just one day after the EU referendum, O’Sullivan tweeted: “Time to leave the UK, I think this place is falling apart at the seams, might move to Germany.”
And it appears the 44-year-old still has admiration for Angela Merkel’s nation.
Speaking after beating Thepchaiya Un-Nooh at the Crucible in a record-breaking 108 minutes, O’Sullivan was asked if he was getting used to playing games with no fans.
He said: “It’s pretty nice, really, and I think this is how the UK should be – a little bit quieter, a little bit slower pace of life.
“It feels like you’re in Germany or Austria or one of those countries – the vibe feels really good around the UK.
“I think we were going at such a breakneck pace anyway that in a way, it’s kind of calmed everything down, so I think it’s a much better lifestyle for everybody at the moment.
“It’s weird – it’s a bit like when I’m driving through London, to see it so empty is just unbelievable.
“And it’s unbelievable here and like a different world for me – I’m able to actually stay in a hotel which is a 30-second walk from the venue, which is great.”
O’Sullivan usually enjoys raucous support from his fans whenever he plays and is one of the most popular players of all-time.
But he said he was loving the ‘holiday’ vibe of having no fans around Sheffield during the World Snooker Championship.
He added in August: “I know it sounds mad but I actually prefer it – it means I haven’t got to deal with the pressure of the crowd and the expectation, and just getting in and out of the venue.
“With getting around, so much less is put on my shoulders so, in a way, it feels like I’m on a bit of a holiday with a bit of a holiday buzz really.
“It’s the first time we’ve been able to actually stay in a hotel close to the venue because normally it’s full of snooker fans and it’s hard for me to get any peace and quiet.
“It’s how I live my life, really – I’m just private, I don’t really socialise much anyway so to me it’s like everybody’s welcomed to my world now.”
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O’Sullivan lost to Irish teenager Aaron Hill at the European Masters and then withdrew from the Championship League because of its COVID-19 rules.
But, he came from 2-0 down to beat world number 127 Brian Ochoiski of France 4-2 in the opening round of the English Open on Monday.
He said he was happier to compete this week as more time between matches allowed him to leave the coronavirus bubble environment.
O’Sullivan said: ”You can come for your test and go.
”I have bad stomach problems so I have to be careful about what I eat.
“I couldn’t get my own food [at the Championship League] – this is a lot easier.
“I’m going to get the train, spend a day at home and come back.”
Due to the pandemic, all ranking events are now provisionally being played behind closed doors in Milton Keynes.
O’Sullivan faces Ryan Day tonight at 7pm in Round Two and the final will be played on Sunday, October 18.
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