BY JACK WATSON
In Unbreakable, Ronnie O’Sullivan, certainly one of the most successful and prestigious players in the history of snooker, shares the story of how he became perhaps the greatest snooker player of all time. It explains how his journey has been extreme, from ‘losing himself’ for seven years to alcohol and drugs, to spending part of his career in rehab going through the 12 step AA programme. How he suffered from relentless anxiety and ‘snooker depression’.
Based on the success of his first book, Ronnie, this one was likely to be a good read. This book is similar to the first, but it includes more details about his life and focuses on his resilience. He shares more about what he was thinking during some of his more recent matches. It highlights his running and talks in more depth about his friends and family.
In the first chapter, he goes through his first few World Championships and his experience throughout his early career. For those who do not know, the World Championship is the biggest tournament in a snooker season, the one every player wants to win. Remarkably, he never practises during a match, he prefers to sit with a cup of tea and watch telly and he was rarely happy with what he achieved. Even when he made the fastest ever 147 (5 minutes 8 seconds), the maximum break in snooker, he said that he was ‘out of control’ and he ‘could have made some flaws’. He always says he is not really bothered if he wins or loses. On this it is very hard to believe him.
O’Sullivan talks openly about his addictions. He was not just addicted to snooker; he was addicted to drugs and drinking. He would go away for a weekend on holiday, but he would end up on the booze non-stop for the duration. He also spent most of his time finding new people to meet and he’d live with them. At around this time his mum was in prison for VAT fraud. O’Sullivan admits he went off the rails after his dad was sent to prison for murder. His father Ronald was jailed in 1992 for killing the driver of gangster Charlie Kray – the brother of twins Ronnie and Reggie – the same year the snooker star turned professional as a teenager.
O’Sullivan claims that there is a distinction between anxiety and depression:
An emotional slump happens once or twice a year to him now and the World Championships is something that sets it off. If he had not taken the right medication, stuck to rehab, and found the right friends and coach, we may not still be watching this genius play snooker. Without him, snooker would be missing a huge character.
O’Sullivan loves running and he has been running from a young age. In this book, he shares part of his story with the sport. Also, he has another book, Running, in which he explains in more detail how running has saved him.
From an early age, his dad would force him to go out and he said to him:
Since then, every morning when he can, he goes for a run in the forest or finds a route that is suitable when he is in another city playing snooker. He loves running with his friends Greg and Sonny, who are mentioned a couple of times in the book. And then he goes to a café for some porridge. Without running, he would not be where he is today and it has kept him stable, fit and happy. He encourages everyone who can to try it out because it is what he is now addicted to; not drugs, snooker or booze, but running.
What O’Sullivan has achieved in his career has been incredible: seven world titles, joining Stephen Hendry on the most won list, he became the youngest player to win a ranking title, he became the first player to get 1000 century breaks (a break over 100 points) and, perhaps most impressive, he still holds the world record for the fastest maximum break. He deserves his nickname ‘The Rocket’, he is one of the fastest players to have ever graced the snooker circuit.
Reading this book was like watching one of his breaks; fast, entertaining and genius. It was gripping from the first line, and it was difficult to close. Written with the help of a ghost writer, he does not bore us with too many flowery details, and describes the important things succinctly.
I would recommend this book to anyone, even if they are not a fan of snooker or of Ronnie. It teaches us how to be ‘unbreakable’ and to bounce back from lows successfully.
Ronnie O’Sullivan (2030 Unbreakable is published by Orion Publishing, London.
Jack Watson is a 14-year-old schoolboy, who has a Substack about being a Hull City fan. You can subscribe to it here.