For both the right and wrong reasons, Ronnie O’Sullivan is never far from the headlines when it comes to major snooker tournaments.
‘The Rocket’ is undoubtedly the most natural gifted player ever to grace the modern game – winning the World, UK Championship and Masters five teams each, as well as making a record 13 maximum breaks.
He has endured a very eventful career on and off the table for all the right and wrong reasons, but – love him or hate him – his antics get everybody talking about Snooker.
While he is flamboyant, entertaining and very exciting to watch, controversy often follows in equal measures, and here are seven of his maddest ever moments…
Playing left-handed – 1996 World Championship
Rising star O’Sullivan was drawn to play Alain Robidoux in the opening round at the Crucible and was very much in control, as he took a comfortable 8-2 lead over the Canadian.
It was then that the 20-year-old decided to play several shots with his left hand, much to the anger of his opponent who later described it as “showboating.”
O’Sullivan won the match 10-3 but received no offer of a handshake from Robidoux, who quickly headed for the Crucible exit.
‘The Rocket’ was involved in further controversy during that tournament when he head-butted Media Official Mike Ganley – now the Tournament Director at World Snooker – and was fined £20,000.
The wet towel – 2005 UK Championship
O’Sullivan’s mental strength was called into question following this incident during his first-round clash with Mark King at the York Barbican.
Having already conceded a frame prematurely when trailing by just 29 points with 51 remaining, ‘the Rocket’ spent large portions of the match sat with a wet towel draped over his head.
He later admitted to doing so in his 2013 autobiography Running because he could not bare to watch his opponent at the table.
King kept his own focus and went on to record a 9-8 win.
The premature concession – 2006 UK Championship
‘The Rocket’ became the centre of attention for all the wrong reasons in York once again, 12 months later.
Trailing 4-1 in his quarter-final against old rival Stephen Hendry, he ran out of position from potting the black.
O’Sullivan subsequently missed a high ambitious red and casually shook hands with a bewildered Hendry and referee Jan Verhaas, before walking out of the arena much to the disbelief of everyone present.
He was later fined a total of £20,800 and docked 900 ranking point for his troubles.
The expletive press conference – 2008 China Open
All appeared to be going smoothly during O’Sullivan’s post-match interview after losing to Marco Fu in the opening round.
However, things suddenly took a very colourful turn as he was heard making a series of lewd comments.
‘The Rocket’ later claimed he was unaware that the TV cameras were rolling and radio microphones turned on at the time.
He was later docked his appearance money and ranking points gained from the event as a result.
Warning: This video contains strong language and references of a sexual nature.
Protest 146 – 2016 Welsh Open
Taking on Barry Pinches in the opening round at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff, O’Sullivan declined the opportunity to make a maximum break, describing the £10,000 prize money on offer as “too cheap”.
He potted the pink off the penultimate red and went on to make 146. World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn branded O’Sullivan’s actions “unacceptable” and “disrespectful.”
The Rocket, though, had the last laugh as he went on to win the tournament, while Ding Junhui made a 147 in his Quarter-Final against Neil Robertson.
Playing in his socks – 2015 World Championship
After appearing to have adopted a more relaxed outlook since his work with Sports Psychiatrist Steve Peters, O’Sullivan demonstrated an array of erratic behaviour at the Crucible back in April.
It all began in his first-round match against Craig Steadman, when his new shoes evidently became very uncomfortable.
After multiple attempts at resolving the issue, he subsequently played the seventh frame without them and, at it’s conclusion, asked the crowd: “Has anybody got a size eight or nine?”
Following a short absence from the arena, ‘The Rocket’ returned donning a pair kindly lent to him by Tournament Director Mike Ganley (whom he had assaulted 19 years previously).
They proved to be lucky, as he went on to see out a 10-3 victory.
Warned for obscene gesture – 2013 World Championship
His bizarre actions continued in his following match against two-time finalist Matthew Stevens.
Earlier in the match, he almost snapped his cue in half when banging it on the table in frustration after missing a relatively straightforward red.
However, another easy miss led to a slightly more inappropriate reaction from the ‘Rocket’, for which he was reprimanded by referee Olivier Marteel.
Kids, look away now!…