Raymond van Barneveld officially said farewell on Saturday with a specially organized evening at the AFAS Live in Amsterdam as a professional darter. The 52-year-old from The Hague looked back on his career one last time. "The diabetes really destroyed everything."
At the start of the evening, Van Barneveld extensively tells his story in front of a handful of cameras in a small back room in the AFAS Live. He talks about the special moments of the past decades. He always does that with a smile, something that was hardly visible on his face in his last year as a player.
"I have had the emotional part. The World Cup went insanely bad of course and I really had it mentally for three or four weeks, but I switched the button on January 1 and started enjoying again. There I lost a huge burden and am really happy again, "he says.
Van Barneveld was eliminated in the first round in December by Darin Young. He then went all the way through and told in one of his interviews that life was no longer meaningful and that he would never forgive himself the premature exit.
"That wasn't great, but I'm the way I am. A lot of people think you're playing for yourself, but I also played for my country. I felt that if I lost, the whole of the Netherlands would be lost. Then I would be ashamed of myself and I had the feeling that I had abandoned my country. I always put an incredible amount of pressure on myself. "
Raymond van Barneveld kisses the cup after the world title in 2003. (Photo: Getty Images)
"The highlight was my first world title"
Van Barneveld had an impressive career. Among other things, he captured five world titles (four at the BDO and one at the PDC), making him the most successful Dutchman and behind Phil Taylor (sixteen world titles) the most successful player in history.
"The highlight was my first world title on January 11, 1998. On that day my life changed. Before that I sat on a bike every day to deliver the mail and dreamed of a career as a darter. That didn't happen until that victory ended on Burnett. From that moment on, everything fell in my direction. F16 flown ... Joh, I've been through the craziest things. "
Van Barneveld experienced somewhat less recent years. For example, his last individual title dates back to 2014 (the Premier League Darts) and he also stranded immediately in the first round at the World Cup last year after a defeat against Darius Labanauskas, with the result that he dropped far away in the world ranking.
"You may think it's excuses, but believe me, diabetes really destroyed my career. I sometimes saw poorly, sometimes had ice-cold hands. I couldn't control it, it was enemy number one. I could have done more in my career but I really don't know what else I should have done. An 8 is still in place. "
Raymond van Barneveld poses with the Premier League Darts trophy in 2014. (Photo: Getty Images)
'After Van Gerwen and' Barney 'nothing comes for a long time'
Van Barneveld will remain involved in the darts. He regularly makes his appearance at demonstration tournaments and also wants to set up his own professional team in the foreseeable future in order to optimally guide the greatest talents in the Netherlands.
"But as long as there are no sponsors, it will not work. I am not going to invest in it myself, so I hope that the business community will like it and make my dream come true. After Van Gerwen and 'Barney' nothing will happen for a long time. Of course we have De Zwaan and Wattimena, but they also need help. "
"I hear sounds around me from people who no longer want to watch darts now that I have stopped. I understand that. There are not many characters left. Taylor, Adams, Hankey, Fordham; they have all fallen away. They made the darts so much fun. That must come back again. "
Van Barneveld said goodbye with a prize in the AFAS Live, which was sold out with 3,000 spectators. He won the pairing tournament together with Robin van Persie. Taylor, Burnett, Adams, Bobby George, Wayne Mardle, Rafael van der Vaart and Rico Verhoeven, among others, also threw an arrow.
See also: Dutch darts without 'Barney': 'He leaves a gaping hole'