Alec Swann - Goodbye to a flawed genius?

Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.

Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.

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“Ive kept my cards close to my chest but there’s no reason to keep them close now. This is my last farewell, it’s my swansong. I’m happy; I’m done.”

Unfortunately not the words of a few sportsman I wouldn’t mind never having to see on a TV screen again, but those of someone I would happily pay a decent amount of my hard-earned to watch.

Ronnie O’Sullivan, in the wake of his World Championship quarter-final hammering of Stuart Bingham, announced to the public that this year’s event at The Crucible in Sheffield will be his final outing in the game’s showpiece.

A contractual obligation to compete in a further 10 events will be fulfilled then, if you believe the words coming out of his mouth, that will be that.

No more Rocket, no more bouts of self-inflicted demon purging, no more flashes of wizardry, no more inane statements, no more five-minute 147 breaks and no more of, like the erm or not, genius.

Flawed yes, but genius nevertheless.

I’ve watched quite a bit - a lot actually - of snooker down the years and I certainly haven’t seen a more gifted player.

Jimmy White oozed talent without the mental fortitude to get over the line, Stephen Hendry was machine-like and untouchable in his prime and Steve Davis turned his obsession into world domination.

But none, and I’d be surprised if the afore-mentioned trio didn’t agree, possessed the all-round ability of O’Sullivan.

It is often difficult to give context to this kind of assertion, after all, he can only play in his era and against who is placed in front of him on any given day but the opinion of his peers is as good an indication of his ability as any.

I wouldn’t be surprsied if this is another chapter in the life of a sportsman who has ‘retired’ on countless occasions already and he could well return depending on which voice in his head wins the bout.

But if he is going then watch the footage of his 147 at The Crucible in 1997.

It’s five minutes and 20 seconds of sporting perfection.