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Luke Littler dares to dream after defeating idol Raymond van Barneveld

Luke Littler celebrates victory over Raymond van Barneveld (Zac Goodwin/PA)
Luke Littler celebrates victory over Raymond van Barneveld (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Teenage sensation Luke Littler is daring to dream after he continued his historic World Darts Championship journey by downing hero Raymond van Barneveld to reach the quarter-finals.

The 16-year-old has set the Alexandra Palace tournament alight on debut and is the youngest player ever to reach the last eight after a stunning 4-1 win.

He showed maturity and talent way beyond his tender years to get past the five-time world champion, who he used to imitate in front of the television as a three-year-old.

Littler, who has made the world sit up and take notice, will come back on New Year’s Day for a winnable quarter-final tie against Brendan Dolan and is dreaming of going all the way.

“It’s incredible beating one of my idols on the biggest stage of all, I still can’t believe it,” he said.

“I think I am daring to dream now, I have seen the draw.

“I am only three wins away now. I’m so young, only 16 and I have got nothing to fear, I have got no-one to fear, my game can be better than anyone’s on the day and I have shown it there against one of the greatest who have graced that stage.

Littler used to imitate his hero Van Barneveld when he was just three
Littler used to imitate his hero Van Barneveld when he was just three (Zac Goodwin/PA)

“With performances like that I can go all the way.

“I’ve pictured myself winning it. I look at the draw and see Brendan next and then Chris Dobey against Rob Cross in the other quarter.

“I fancy myself. I do fancy myself.”

He was not even born when Van Barneveld won the last of his five titles.

Luke Littler
Littler has taken Alexandra Palace by storm (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Video footage has emerged of a three-year-old Littler copying ‘Barney’s’ celebration and has admitted it was a dream to play him on the Ally Pally stage.

He added: “It is unbelievable, 13 years ago I was doing his celebration throwing on my little board and I have just beaten him on the biggest stage.”

“Barney said to me at the end, ‘You can go all the way. I hope you go all the way’. I said, ‘Thank you’.

“He is a true gentlemen. I respect Raymond very well.

“Raymond was incredible. It was incredible to see his iconic walk-on, I am so glad I got the job done. It wasn’t easy.”

Next up is Dolan, who beat his second former world champion in three days when he ousted Gary Anderson 4-3.

It looked like the Northern Irishman, who dumped out Gerwyn Price in the third round, was heading out as Anderson rallied from 2-0 down to lead 3-2.

Brendan Dolan
Brendan Dolan beat Gary Anderson to reach the last eight (Zac Goodwin/PA)

But Dolan composed himself and won the final two sets to reach the last eight.

“I’m over the moon,” he said. “I just think so much of Gary and how brilliant he is.

“It is not a bad couple of days. There has certain things that have happened that maybe make me think it’s meant to be.”

Pre-tournament favourite Luke Humphries again survived a scare as he prevailed in an epic thriller with Joe Cullen, winning a sudden death leg in the final set.

The pair were locked at three sets all and five legs all, with Humphries taking out 100 to win on his 10th match dart.

“It was one of the best games I have ever been apart of. Every time I looked around it was just treble after treble. No one deserved to lose, Joe did not deserve to lose that,” Humphries said.