Raymond van Barneveld enjoys the free time he has now that he has stopped playing darts. The 52-year-old from The Hague has been able to give a place to his last World Cup, which had expired dramatically in the first round.

"I notice that I am more relaxed than before. I take more time for people who want to tell me a nice story. The stress of always having to focus and perform is gone. Marco Borsato sang it beautifully: the mask is off I have been wearing a mask for 35 years. I can now be Raymond again, "says Van Barneveld.

Van Barneveld lost surprisingly to the American Darin Young at the World Cup last month. He went through it completely afterwards and even told in one of his interviews that he would never forgive himself the premature exit and that life was no longer meaningful.

The five-time world champion announced earlier this week in front of the camera of Live Darts that he regretted those words ("I felt depressed. I was an excited boxer, but now I feel good again."). He wants to leave it at that and not go further.

"I had a terrible year, but I also get a little tired of looking back every time. I would like to stop that. I just want to look ahead. I can't make it up anyway, it's well once happened. Sometimes I still have a lot of pain and sorrow, but you have to keep going. I was able to let go. "

Raymond van Barneveld received an award for his dart career during the Kings of Darts in Den Bosch. (Photo: Pro Shots)

"Want to set up a professional darts team"

Van Barneveld does not completely quit the darts. He plays many demonstration tournaments this year. Like Michael van Gerwen and Fallon Sherrock, he came into action on Friday at the Kings of Darts in Den Bosch and he also takes part in those events in Enschede and Groningen on Sunday and Tuesday.

"During my career I also played a lot of demonstrations, but at a certain point that was no longer possible. Then I just had a beating and I had to put on my party hat again the next day and have fun doing a demonstration. Because the people pay for a nice evening. I don't have to deal with that anymore. "

"I have a lot of fun plans in my head. I really want to set up a professional darts team, see it as darts 2.0. Just like a football team training daily and going to the gym. Passing on the knowledge I have gained to others. Dream there I from."

Van Barneveld says goodbye as a professional darter on 8 February. He thanks his fans during a specially organized evening, called 'Farewell to the Legend', at the AFAS Live in Amsterdam. Well-known Dutchmen such as Robin van Persie and Rafael van der Vaart are present.