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Last Updated: Monday, 6 October, 2003, 08:43 GMT 09:43 UK
O'Sullivan denies Muslim claim
Snooker star Ronnie O'Sullivan

Snooker star Ronnie O'Sullivan has dismissed reports claiming he converted to Islam.

O'Sullivan, nicknamed 'The Rocket', said his visit to a mosque had been misinterpreted.

"There has been some confusion recently. I am not a Muslim," he said.

"However, I am privileged with the friendship of Muslims who have been there for me and I value as true friends."

O'Sullivan said he was interested in Islam, but also in Buddhism and Christianity.

"Perhaps I've been naive and given people the wrong impression, and if I have I'm sorry," he said.

"I went along to a mosque because I'm interested in Islam, but I didn't know anyone would be interested in converting me."

O'Sullivan is a friend of boxer Prince Naseem Hamed, a devout Muslim.

But reports of the snooker player's conversion led to suggestions he would have to change his lifestyle.

In my ignorance I thought it was just a social thing - their way of welcoming a stranger
Ronnie O'Sullivan
The controversial star, whose father is serving a life term for murder, has suffered from depression and drug abuse.

He apologised for any misunderstanding caused by his mosque visit.

"Actually, even when they called me to the front of the mosque I didn't know what was happening," he said.

"They were very friendly, and in my ignorance I thought it was just a social thing - their way of welcoming a stranger.

"I felt a bit overawed by all the people around me, especially because they were talking all the time.

"I'm the kind of person who doesn't want to offend, and I just thought I'd keep everyone happy then politely leave. But now I know differently."

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