Mardle: “What an absolute superstar of a darts player he’s been.”
Last Updated: 22/11/18 1:17pm
Wayne Mardle has paid tribute to Raymond van Barneveld after the five-time world champion announced earlier this week that he will retire from the game after the 2019/2020 World Championship.
Van Barneveld has enjoyed incredible longevity throughout a glittering career, but he confirmed that next year will be his 35th and final season on the competitive circuit.
The legendary Dutchman is one of only three players in the history of the sport to be world champion five times and he’s racked up 29 PDC titles, including two UK Opens, four World Cup of Darts wins and more recently, the Grand Slam of Darts and the Premier League.
Reflecting on Van Barneveld’s impending retirement, Mardle told the Darts Show podcast that Barney ranks among the very best to have ever played the game.
“I tell you what, what an absolute superstar of a dart player he’s been,” Mardle said.
“He’s one of the best ever and I put him right up there with your Phil Taylors, Eric Bristows and Michael van Gerwens.”
2006, 2007 UK Open
2007 World Championship
2007 Las Vegas Desert Classic
2012 Grand Slam of Darts
2014 Premier League
2010, 2014, 2017, 2018 World Cup of Darts
Mardle and Van Barneveld contested some memorable battles on the oche, but the Sky Sports pundit revealed he’d been working with Barney on his game over the last 18 months.
“It may be known to some but not to a lot; I’ve had quite a lot of dealings with Raymond over the last 18 months, trying to get his set-up right, and his throw and his action,” he said.
“Barney is one of those players- you know you get some that are playing well and look dangerous- Barney never seems to have any form. What I mean by that is he can be ridiculously poor one week, then he beats Van Gerwen the next.”
“He is one of the reasons why darts has been so big, not just in Holland, but in Europe as well.”
Mardle on Barney’s impact
Phil Taylor cited the gruelling schedule for his retirement back in January, and Mardle believes the intensity of the tour has taken a similarly heavy toll on Van Barneveld, who turned 51 in April.
“It’s how he feels on the day and I’m afraid him feeling good is happening less and less, and he keeps going on about his body can’t hack it, he can’t concentrate for the length of time he used to be able to.
“He’s not enjoying the tour, he doesn’t enjoy the events, he doesn’t enjoy travelling any more which means the game is becoming a chore for him,” Mardle added.
Van Barneveld will compete in his 27th World Championship next month and he still has two more opportunities to add the crowning glory to a magnificent career.
The Dutchman remains one of the most popular figures on the circuit and Mardle claims that Barney has played a huge role in the sport’s seismic growth.
1998, 1999, 2003, 2005 Lakeside Championship
2001, 2005 World Masters
1995, 2001, 2003, 2004 Zuiderduin Masters
2003, 2004 World Darts Trophy
2003, 2004, 2006 International Darts League
2007 Masters of Darts
“He is one of the reasons why darts has been so big, not just in Holland, but in Europe as well, because on the BBC back in the day, he was the one that people tuned in to watch,” Mardle said.
“There’s not enough you can say about him in a couple of minutes. The man is an absolute darting genius.”
Attention now switches to the World Championship with 16 days of coverage, kicking off with a live preview show from Alexandra Palace at 6pm on Thursday December 13.
The draw takes place on Monday November 26, live on Sky Sports News.
Keep up to date with the news as the tungsten enters its busiest time of year with the PDC World Championships just around the corner get all the latest at www.skysports.com/darts and join in the conversation@SkySportsDarts