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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 December 2006, 19:35 GMT
Rocket goes off again

Ronnie O'Sullivan
O'Sullivan yet again manages to stun the snooker world
Ronnie O'Sullivan has always been consistent in one thing - courting controversy.

Arguably the most naturally gifted player in the sport's history, O'Sullivan has probably garnered more headlines than the rest of the snooker world put together.

On Thursday, the "Essex Exocet" added another dramatic chapter to his colourful career when he walked out of his Maplin UK Championship quarter-final against Stephen Hendry.

Of course, O'Sullivan is no stranger to bizarre behaviour - at the same tournament last year he spent much of his 9-8 defeat to Mark King with a wet towel draped over his head.

Earlier in 2005, he looked visibly stressed by Peter Ebdon's go-slow tactics in the World Championship quarter-finals and said after his defeat that he intended to take a year off snooker.

The public and the media did not hold their breath though as it was not the first time O'Sullivan had threatened to quit the sport.

O'SULLIVAN FACTFILE
1975: Born 5 Dec in Wordsley, West Midlands
1992: Turns professional
1993: Beats Stephen Hendry to win UK Championship aged 17
1997: Compiles fastest 147 on record in just five minutes 20 seconds during World Championship
2001: Wins Champions Cup, Regal Masters, China Open, Irish Masters, third UK Championship and first World Championship
2004: Takes second World Championship
2005: Claims he will take a year off from the sport after losing to Peter Ebdon at the World Championship; loses 9-8 to Mark King at UK Championship, sitting with a towel on his head
2006: Walks out of UK Championship quarter-final against Hendry
His many moments of brilliance on the green baize has been tempered with apparent periods of disinterest and unhappiness.

His 14-year professional career has been blighted by depression, which in turn stems from events in his family life and from drug abuse.

In fact, the 27-year-old's use of recreational substances landed him in trouble in 1998 when he tested positive for marijuana after winning the Irish Masters - O'Sullivan was later stripped of the title.

His emotional stability was also tested in 1996 when he was found guilty by snooker's governing body of assaulting an official at the 1996 World Championship.

He was handed a two-year suspended sentence, a 20,000 fine and advised to donate 10,000 to charity.

Fellow players have also felt the wrath of O'Sullivan's outbursts and erratic behaviour.

606: DEBATE
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In 1996, the Chigwell star decided to play left-handed against opponent Alain Robidoux.

O'Sullivan eventually beat Robidoux 10-3, but there was no offer of a handshake from the Canadian after the match.

In 2002 O'Sullivan launched a stunning attack on Stephen Hendry prior to their Crucible semi-final.

He accused Hendry of bad sportsmanship in a previous match, adding: "I know if I do get beat and he comes up and does a moonie in front of me and goes 'Ne ne ne', I'll just look at him and say 'well done' and say 'go back to your sad little life'."

That is all now ancient history, according to Hendry.

It remains to be seen whether snooker fans will be so forgiving after The Rocket's latest explosion.



SEE ALSO
King hands O'Sullivan shock loss
10 Dec 05 |  Snooker


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