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PDC confirm changes to 2021 Qualifying School

Van Barneveld heading to Qualifying School in a quest for competitive comeback

Jamie Shaw in Q School 23 Sep 2020
Raymond van Barneveld is eyeing a remarkable comeback (Photo by Michael Cooper/PDC)

Dutch darting legend Raymond van Barneveld is poised to come out of retirement in a bid to regain a place on the PDC circuit at Qualifying School in 2021.

The five-time World Champion brought the curtain down on a glittering career in 2019 but is now set for a sensational u-turn as he looks to recapture his former glories.

The 53-year-old’s final appearance in a PDC major ended in heartbreak with a shock First Round defeat to America’s Darin Young in the 2019/20 World Championship, and Van Barneveld believes he has unfinished business.

“It’s very simple. I miss it. I miss it terribly,” Van Barneveld told RTL News.

“I think the decision [to retire] was the right one, but I have now had a lot of time to think about it. Then I realised I miss it terribly.

“I now have a unique opportunity to realise my dream and to work in a team. I think that is the solution for me.

“Because I haven’t been myself for the past two or three years, you don’t always make the right decisions.

“Your head is haunted and you’re a nightmare for everyone. But that’s different now. I’m looking forward to it.

“I signed for three years, so we have the chance to at least get a tour card for three years.

“If I want to get my tour card, I will have to do my best.”

Van Barneveld, who relinquished his Tour Card at the end of last season, will head to European Qualifying School in January in a bid to reclaim a place on the tour.

Following a 19-year spell in the BDO which saw him lift four world titles, as well as two World Masters and several other major titles, Barney joined the PDC in 2006, citing Phil Taylor as his main motivation.

He quickly developed a competitive rivarly with Taylor which helped take the sport to new heights, and his finest hour came in 2007 when he defeated ‘The Power’ in a sudden death leg to win his first PDC world title at The Circus Tavern.

That was one of 29 PDC titles Barney secured, including two UK Opens, the 2012 Grand Slam and 2014 Premier League.

A disappointing farewell season saw him suffer elimination from the Premier League on home soil in Rotterdam, after which he announced he would bring forward his scheduled retirement with immediate effect, before reversing the decision the following day.

Van Barneveld has now linked up with former manager Ben de Kok, who also works with current world number 24 Jeffrey de Zwaan.

The Hague hero will join a vast field at Qualifying School, which offers any player aged 16 and above the chance to compete to win a coveted two-year PDC Tour Card.