Five-time world champion Raymond Van Barneveld will quit darts at the end of 2019, saying he has lost the “drive, fitness and motivation” to succeed.
The 51-year-old Dutchman, a 2007 PDC World Championship victor over Phil Taylor in what is regarded as the greatest match of all time, announced the news on Monday.
He will play through to next year’s World Championship, giving him two more opportunities to add to his tally, but he admitted he no longer has what it takes to compete regularly at the top end of the sport.
“Next year is going to be my 35th year of playing darts at the highest level and it’s going to be my last year,” Van Barneveld told the Darts Show.
“I noticed in myself that I can’t keep up anymore, I know what I can do but it’s just not been happening for the past three or four years apart from winning the World Cup with Michael [van Gerwen].
“I’m not winning tournaments anymore, I don’t know why but a lot of things have happened in my private life and I’ve also noticed that my body isn’t feeling 100 per cent anymore – I don’t have the drive, motivation or fitness to carry on.
“I’m a winner, that’s what I do – I lift trophies but I can’t do it anymore. Maybe there are still a couple of titles left in me and that would be amazing but I can’t do this every week anymore. I don’t want my career to fizzle out which is why I’ve made the decision to retire at the end of next year.”
A winner of 29 PDC titles since moving over from the BDO, where he won four of his world titles, Van Barneveld was the first player to hit nine-dart finishes in the Premier League and World Championship.
Despite being behind the likes of Van Gerwen, Gary Anderson and Peter Wright in the running for major honours nowadays, he still believes he can end his career on the ultimate high.
“I absolutely believe I can still be world champion again in one of my last two attempts,” Van Barneveld added.
“My grandmother always said ‘if you believe then you can achieve anything you want’ and I still believe I can do this, but not for many more years.”