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"Selfish, Cocky, Dedicated" - Phil Taylor's Rise To The Top Didn't Come Easy

"Selfish, Cocky, Dedicated" - Phil Taylor's Rise To The Top Didn't Come Easy

As he approaches the climax of a remarkable sporting career, Phil Taylor continues to divide opinion.

Leave alone the questions surrounding darts and it's sporting merit, the 16-time PDC World Champion from Stoke is often lambasted for his unattractive arrogance.

Yet, world titles don't generally win themselves. Ahead of his final game of competitive darts tonight, the method behind Taylor's maniacal efforts are worthy of some consideration. As revealed to The Telegraph, Taylor rarely, if ever, lets up:

I used to go into the practice room at 9am and sometimes I wasn't playing until 6pm.

The cleaners were in, hoovering up around me. I was fanatical. I was like Bruce Lee, making up my own style.

You had to be selfish, cocky, dedicated.

Brought up in a house "with no electricity, running water or glass in the windows", Taylor doesn't hide the fact that he has always seen himself as having a point to prove.

Having elevated darts into a sporting mainstream that never appeared willing to embrace it in such a manner, his impact on the sport is unmatched.

Initially sponsored by another darts legend in Eric Bristow, such support didn't necessarily guarantee goodwill from the 5-time BDO World Champion:

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He made me into a winner but he used to wind me up. I would search for a telephone box that worked after a tournament.

He would ask: "How did you do?" I said: "Lost in the final." He would be, "fucking useless twat." Ring me when you win something".

I was fuming but determined to win the next one. Eric would walk into a room and say: "You owe me £5,650. Get off your arse, stop talking to these guys, and get on that practice board." If he walked into this room now, I would still get up and start practicing.

In tonight's final, Taylor (57) will face the 27-year old Rob Cross in what will be a first world final for the younger player.

Perfectly aware of the aura surrounding him and his achievements, Taylor isn't immune to the fact that his status "can be in their mind":

It puts a little bit of tension in the arm. It's like having to serve to beat Roger Federer at Wimbledon.

Part Bruce Lee and Roger Federer then? Love him or hate him, darts will be a quieter place without Taylor.

See Also: Phil Taylor Accused Of 'Dirty Darts' On Way To World Championship Final

Arthur James O'Dea

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