Why snooker champ Ronnie O’Sullivan hasn’t seen his newborn grandchild

He’s had a life stranger than fiction, so it’s appropriate that five-time World Snooker Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, 42, has brought out his third novel, The Break.

Set in gangland London, with the hero, Frankie James, battling against all the odds, it’s a world Ronnie is very familiar with.

His parents Ronnie Snr and Maria owned a chain of sex shops in Soho: ‘I spent a lot of my younger years in Soho and it’s a great place to set a book – it still has that vibe,’ says Ronnie, who grew up in Chigwell.

‘When my agent first asked me if I would be interested in writing a novel I knew I had a lot of thoughts in my head, but trying to get it on paper was another thing,’ he says.

‘I said I’d give it go, I wrote a load of stuff down, plot ideas, loads of characters I’d met over the years, characters my dad had known too. Once I put it all down, quite a lot of it tied up and made a good story.’

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The novels are a cracking read, but then Ronnie’s own life has had more twists and turns than a best-seller.

When he was 16, although his snooker career was just taking off, his world fell apart when his dad was jailed for murder.

Ron Snr had been on a night out when he fatally stabbed Bruce Bryan in a nightclub. Bryan was Charlie Kray’s driver, older brother of the infamous Kray twins .

‘I was aware of those types of people around when I was growing up,’ Ronnie has previously said. Ron Snr was jailed for 18 years. He was released eight years ago, and father and son remain close.

His mum was left to run the family business, but in 1995 she was also sent to prison, for tax evasion.

Young Ronnie went off the rails.

‘Once my dad was taken away it was hard to accept that I wasn’t going to see him because we spent a lot of time together. I couldn’t get my head around it.

‘I lost my way a bit. Although I have always been a strong character, I’ve known right from wrong, you know. I never used to push it too far. I always knew when enough was enough and I’d rein it in and that’s how I kept my career going,’ he says with total honesty.’

Yet there were decades of drunken binges and temper tantrums, and he’s threatened to retire from championship snooker more times than he’s potted a winning black. Then about three years ago, he decided to take himself in hand.

‘For years I sort of got caught in a rat race and I lost myself, I got down, but I still got the work done.

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‘I knew what had to be done. I’d come out of it, but then lose myself again, going back on the booze and drugs,’ he says frankly. ‘I worked hard for three years and it left me feeling really bad.

‘I realised I wasn’t well, I needed to sort myself out. So I just focused on simple things again, like health and home, and in the last three or four months I feel I’ve come out the other side again. I’ve never felt so good.’

One of his new passions is running. ‘I reckon I have an addictive nature, and now I’m addicted to running. It makes me feel really good.

‘At first I was running but not losing weight, so I went to see a nutritionist and she put me on the right track – I started eating healthily, fresh fish, vegetables, good carbs and stuff. I lost a stone and a half.

‘I’ve always been into cooking, and because I was doing it for health, I was interested. I’ve got a cookbook coming out next year.

‘Laila and I tend to cook together at home. She is a pretty good cook as well. She makes some great dishes. When I’m home I pretty much cook every day. I make a good curry, I like making them. When I am away she sorts herself out.’

Laila is Footballers’ Wives and Holby City actress Laila Rouass . The two have been engaged since 2013 and Ronnie clearly adores her.

Despite several long-term relationships, Ronnie has never married. So are he and Laila going to tie the knot?

‘We’ve been engaged for a while now, so we know we want to be with each other, I’m sure we will get round to it. We’re very casual and laid-back about the whole thing anyway.

‘When it happens, it will happen. I love her, I love her company, I admire her. She’s good for me in many ways and understands me and the business and gets it and what I go through.

‘I really, really love her. I’ve had relationships where it’s great and then fizzles out after a while, but I’ve yet to feel like that with Laila, I get excited every time I come home.’

Ronnie has three children from previous relationships and his eldest, Taylor-Ann Magnus, made him a grandfather last month

Sadly he hasn’t met his grandchild as he and Taylor haven’t been in touch in years.

Mainly affable and open, he’s not comfortable talking about his daughter and says enigmatically, ‘I’ve got a strange relationship with her, sad really. It hasn’t quite panned out. I didn’t want to be involved in a certain dynamic, so I removed myself from that situation. You never know, at some point it might suit both of us to have a healthy relationship.’

Ronnie began playing snooker as a little boy and dad Ron had a special snooker room built for him at home.

By the time he was 13, he was British Under 16 Champion. He has the unique ability of being able to play both right and left handed.

He most recently took the title at the Shanghai Masters, but once again is considering giving up snooke

‘The travelling gets me down. It’s not about going away and getting beaten and getting frustrated, it’s the going from one place to the next, the constant travelling.

‘I take pride in my performances and I prepare and everything, but I know my performances are not as good as I’d like them to be because of all the travelling and jet lag.

‘If it was about money, I’d just go on the road and do it, but it’s not. I take a pride in the quality of the events.’

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So he’s at a crossroads in life. ‘Yeah, that’s it exactly, a crossroads. I talked to Laila and she said, “You’re happy,” but I said, “I know, but it’s my career, I’ve done it for 30 years.”

A lot of me is scared about filling my time up, actually. I like discipline in my life, it gives me a reason to get
out of bed.’

We leave Ronnie contemplating his future and what comes next.

He says, ‘I’ll always find something that makes me feel good inside. Happiness doesn’t come from external things, you need to be happy inside and that’s the important thing to me, all the other stuff is a bonus. That’s the thought I have to start my day.’

Ronnie describes his typical weekend…

Lie-in or up with the lark?
I wake up at about half six or seven, but tend to have a lie-in until about half eight, then get up and go to the gym, soI’m half and half.

Describe a typical Sunday…
Get up, have some breakfast with Laila, she’ll take her daughter Inez to lessons. I’ll go get my car cleaned up at Westfield, she’ll meet me and we’ll all have a cup of tea. I’ll go and hit a few balls down the snooker club, get home about four, get the dinner on and watch a bit of Netflix. Laila is getting into the second series of Making A Murderer, while I’m a big Big Brother fan and I’ve been catching up with that.

What would be your perfect Sunday?
Go out for a run with a few lads from the running club, get back, have a nice shower, then lie in bed for 20 minutes or so. Have a nice bit of brekkie and plan lunch. Maybe watch a bit of sport on the TV, doss about, read a book… I’m a lazy person really, I’m not one for getting in the car and going sightseeing. I’m built for comfort. If there’s a chance of getting caught in a traffic jam, count me out.

Sunday roast at home or pub lunch?
I’m not really a big roast dinner type. Since I got into the health and nutrition thing – when I
get into something I stick to it, so I’ve been doing it for about a year and a half now – I usually cook, so maybe a bit of fish or a nice curry. Sunday roast is something I only have once every few weeks.

Papers or telly?
I might read a newspaper once every month and that’s if I’m in a caff! I’d rather not know, I live in a little bubble. I like to be around the kitchen with the telly on.

The Break by Ronnie O’Sullivan is published in hardback by Macmillan, £14.99

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