Taylor believes Van Barneveld can claim farewell world title

Barney and Taylor continue to meet on the exhibition circuit (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

Phil Taylor admits he “knew” Raymond van Barneveld was ready to call time on his career but insists his great rival still has the game to win a sixth world title.

Van Barneveld recently announced his decision to retire from professional darts following next year's World Championship, committing to one final season before bringing the curtain down on an illustrious career spanning more than three decades.

Van Barneveld joined the PDC in 2006 to test himself against the sport's all-time great - Taylor - and the duo quickly formed an era-defining rivalry which produced some of the most memorable matches in darting history.

Taylor, who bowed out of the sport following defeat to Rob Cross in the 2018 William Hill World Championship final, admits he knew the Dutch icon was ready to walk away but says he is capable of capturing a first world crown since 2007 if he can prepare himself mentally.

"I wasn't one bit surprised, I knew," Taylor told Live Darts. "I said to him, you're getting to retire now bud.

"It does hurt you, it was bad enough for me but he's travelled twice as much.

"He's in his fifties now and it becomes harder, you've got young lads coming through that are aggressive and who really don't care who Barney is.

"He can walk away now, he's earned a lot of money and he can earn a cracking living just doing personal appearances.

"I can't say whether it's the right or wrong decision really, I think if I was Barney I would wait until after the World Championship and maybe if he wins the World Championship then re-evaluate it a little bit.

"He has got the game to win it? One hundred per cent. But whether he's got the mental strength at the minute, no because he's not right.

"If he goes into the World Championship and smashes it in the First Round, beware, because then he'll think 'I can win this', and that's when Barney is at his best."

Taylor and Van Barneveld contested more than 80 matches between 1990 and 2017, with 'The Power' prevailing on 61 occasions, including the 2009 World Championship final and 2010 World Matchplay final.

Van Barneveld, however, won the most iconic meeting between the pair in the 2007 World Championship final, holding his nerve in an epic sudden death shoot-out at the Circus Tavern to secure a fifth world crown.

Taylor, 58, has paid tribute to the impact of the Dutch maestro on his own career, admitting Van Barneveld's decision to join the PDC helped breathe new life into the sport.

"He was a breath of fresh air for me, Barney was," Taylor added. "It was getting a bit stale."

"He came over and he revamped everything, the interest came back.

"Dennis [Priestley] was the hardest player I've ever played against but Barney was just as hard but a quicker thrower.

"Dennis being slow and accurate was very difficult to play against but Barney was a different kettle of fish.

"It was exciting to play Barney, I'd been playing with Dennis for years, we roomed together, played pairs together, so the excitement had gone a little bit.

"With Barney, it was fresh, it was new, like having a new car, it was different and I still enjoying playing him now.

"I love the fella to bits, he's not the best loser in the world, don't get me wrong, but I still like him.

"We've had our tiffs now and again like anybody does, it's like being in a married couple when you're away.

"Don't forget, I probably saw Barney more than I did my own wife and kids so you're going to have your little spits now and again.

"In fairness, I think we only really ever fell out once, which was for about five minutes!"

You can watch the full interview with Taylor below...

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Taylor believes Van Barneveld can claim farewell world title

Phil Taylor admits he “knew” Raymond van Barneveld was ready to call time on his career but insists his great rival still has the game to win a sixth world title.

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