Darts legend Barney says "I was really upset" as he opens up on day he collapsed

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Raymond van Barneveld was always going to make headlines in 2021 – he just wishes it was not in the way he did.

Five-time world champion Barney rolled back the years in February when he reclaimed his PDC tour card just over 12 months after retiring from throwing competitive darts.

Not only did he secure a return to the big time, he immediately rejoined the winners' circle by claiming his first ranking title since 2013 with victory in the Players Championship 3 event.

But headlines turned from glory to concern just one month later, when news broke that he collapsed during a routine tour event.

"When I left on the Monday morning to Milton Keynes, it was quarter past five in the and my dad had a stroke the previous day," Barney recalls.

"He was stable but I never had the right feeling that I should have left; you're worrying.

"I rang my mum about whether I should go and she said it is important for you to qualify for the World Matchplay.

"But I never felt good about it."

Barney's form on the oche matched his feelings off it. A host of early exits culminated in a 6-1 defeat to Ryan Searle on the final day. He was then sent to mark another match.

"I was marking the Jeffery De Zwaan game… and I collapsed.

"I think it was all down to stress. It wasn't down to my diabetes. I just did not feel well and I did not eat properly the night before.

"One month before, my house collapsed due to a snowstorm. So I had a lot of stress in my system."

Barney soon reassured fans on social media that he was fine, but it created weeks of inner torment for one of the greatest players of all-time.

"For a couple of weeks I was anxious, I thought oh my god, it was going to happen again," he said.

Will Barney ever win a major title again? Let us know in the comments section.

"In one event in Germany, I beat Steve Brown 6-1 and then I pulled back from the event. We were driving home and I was really upset, because I did not know what was wrong with me.

"I had my heart tested in hospital, I went to diabetes regimes and it was all perfect. It was just stress and it was in my head.

"Sometimes when you are anxious and you start worrying, that is where it all goes wrong."

Barney has since returned to the oche. He qualified for the Grand Slam last week, where he was drawn in the group of death, and this weekend competes in the Ladbrokes Players Championship Finals.

He initially walked from darts because, in his own words, "I wasn't myself, I didn't believe in myself anymore and I wasn't a nice person to the people around me."

But now he has got a new-found fire in his belly.

"If you feel right, if you have a focus, then sometimes it is right to get out of the system and start from scratch again," Barney said.

"I can't go lower than this, so I am starting climbing again.

"I am not going to say I am going to win the World Championship or the Players Championship again, but in my heart, I think I can do this.

"We are not there yet, we need to work hard and practice hard… and dream!

"You need dreams to see where you want to be from here.

"It's pointless to practice three to five times a week and then go out in the first round of an event, because that is not what you want, you want more than that."

This weekend, the draw might reduce quite how much we see Barney on stage, but he is feeling a new-found fire in his belly.

"I have Maik Kuivenhoven in the first round and he has beaten me twice on the pro tour. If I win this match, I probably play Michael van Gerwen in the second round.

"So in all honesty, I probably look to get some experience on the stage again and look to be as good as possible.

"I can win these matches, I can't see why not, but it is not an easy draw, though it is not easy for anyone."

  • The Ladbrokes Players Championship Finals are live on ITV4 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
  • Raymond van Barneveld
  • Darts

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