Ronnie O’Sullivan has no regrets over his decision to walk out of his infamous UK Championship quarter-final with old foe Stephen Hendry in 2006, but is surprised he is still competing at the elite level 15 years later.
O’Sullivan has lifted the UK title a record seven times since becoming the youngest winner of a ranking event at the age of 17 years and 358 days with a glorious 10-6 win over Hendry in 1993.
But Rocket Ronnie's most discussed moment at the UK Championship arguably came when he decided to quit his best-of-17 frame encounter with the Scotsman during the first session at the Barbican Centre in York.
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O’Sullivan was trailing 4-1 when he missed a tough red leading 24-0 in the sixth frame before shaking hands with a stunned Hendry and equally bewildered Dutch referee Jan Verhaas.
O’Sullivan confesses he was in a fragile mental state at the time, but has improved his outlook due to work with celebrated sports psychiatrist Steve Peters over the past decade.
When asked if he thought he would have reached his 30th season as a professional upon reflection, O’Sullivan said: “Probably not, you know, probably not.
“But then again, I was going through a bit of a hard time at the time which I'm not sure I spoke about in either of my books. I don't know. But yeah, I just wasn't in the mood to play snooker so I walked out and that was that.
I've always had this inbuilt desire to challenge myself. And, you know, get up off the floor, if you like. Pick myself up, dust myself down and come back.
“But I'm not sure the last time I done it, I really wanted to do it.
“It is only because of Steve and the work I've done with him that kind of kept me curious. So it was like a new way of looking at it.
“You know, you have snooker coaches, and you go through a lot of them and you think: ‘oh, that's that done, there's nothing else to learn there’.
But with Steve it brought a fresh different angle to it. We don't actually talk about snooker. We just talk about the mindset and how do we deal with a certain situation.
"And that's been really interesting and good for me to go down that road."
O'Sullivan begins his latest UK campaign, his 29th after opting out of the tournament in 2015, against attacking Welshman Michael White on Wednesday evening.
He would dearly love to clasp an eighth UK trophy on 5 December, the day of his 46th birthday, but feels there is more to life than winning snooker tournaments.
“Success for me is just to enjoy your work and enjoy the people you surround yourself with," he told Eurosport.
"I think for the last 15 years, I've been guilty of doing a lot of stuff for a lot of other people and feeling like I had to. The guilt of not doing it..you maybe kind of beat yourself up.
“But I’ve had a bit of a wake-up call recently.

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“Recently I just thought: ‘you know what, I'm going to live life for myself for a change, you know, and just not worry about this, that and the next thing.
“So yeah, I feel quite free at the moment and I'm enjoying the freedom and the options that I have now.
“Whereas before, I would never really embrace them because I still had a good life. I still enjoyed what I'd do, but I always made sure that it was okay with somebody else if I'd done X, Y and Z.
Whereas now, if I woke up tomorrow and went, you know what, I'm just going to travel the UK and Europe for the next 12 months..I would do it without even consulting anyone.
“I'm more than happy for you to come and visit me and join me if you missed me enough. If not, I'll catch you later. Have a nice time, this is what I want to do now.
“I feel like I'm at that stage in my life where I'm fit and healthy and I just want to experience as many great things as I can.
“Obviously, I'd still make sure come back and do my punditry work for Eurosport because I love doing that.
“There's other stuff that I do away from snooker that I would make sure I do too, but it wouldn't stop me from leading the life I want to live."
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