Ronnie O’Sullivan facing child prodigy who won same award as Romelu Lukaku at Snooker World Championships
RONNIE O’SULLIVAN is up against child prodigy Luca Brecel at the Snooker World Championships.
Brecel, 28, is looking to finally join Romelu Lukaku in living up to the title of “Most Promising Talent”, which he won at the Belgian Sports Awards aged 15.
Lukaku had won the award the year prior to Brecel.
The ex-Manchester United striker was once recognised as one of the most lethal strikers on the planet and is his nation’s top goalscorer.
Brecel, who is also friends with fellow Belgian footballers Youri Tielemans and Jan Vertonghen, is yet to hit the same heights.
In fact, Brecel had not won a single match at the World Championships prior to this year.
But now he is hoping to dash O’Sullivan’s dream of a record eighth world title.
The two previously met at the 02 Arena, when Brecel was just 15, in the Power Snooker short-format concept of the game.
As quoted by the Mirror, Brecel said: “Playing Ronnie when I was just 15 in that tournament was a great experience for me.
“And that has been very important in my career – playing big games and against big names at a very young age.
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“I won the Europeans twice at 14, and played at the Crucible at 17. That is still the record for the youngest to play there, and one I am very proud of. So those put me a step ahead of the rest.
“That record will probably get beaten. Now players can turn pro before 16, you’d think that someone talented might do it.
“I have watched how I played then on video – and I might be even more aggressive now than then, which is incredible. I have more shots.
“I certainly remember the atmosphere in London, it was very loud with fans really shouting for Ronnie. It was the same at the Masters this year when I played him. I’m sure at the Crucible, too.”
Brecel had beaten Snooker great Stephen Hendry the year before facing O’Sullivan, following this up with wins against Ken Doherty and Jimmy White at the same age in the World Series.
He added: “I was so sharp at 14, like when I beat Hendry, I was obsessed with snooker and practised so much. I was practically unbeatable in the amateur game.
“I have been lucky enough to meet Lukaku a couple of times. And I know a few of the other Belgium footballers.
“I might get messages of support from Youri Tielemans, Jan Vertonghan, and a few more for the Ronnie match. A lot of them like and follow the snooker.
“Tennis star Kim Clijsters won the main award the year I got mine. I got to speak to her. In fact, Belgium is a small world… I play darts with her sister sometimes.
“I do stay up late and play FIFA, sometimes until 6am and then sleep all day. My preparation for this tournament could not have been any worse, believe me.
“I have been staying up all night, partying, playing darts, not practising… so it’s unbelievable to reach the standard I have in the two games.
“The ex-pro pundits don’t like it when I say I haven’t practised.
“The tattoos on my hands say ‘Free Bird’ which is the way I live and play. And there is ‘La Vida Loca’ which means ‘Crazy Life’ in Spanish…because that’s me too.”
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