Snooker legend Ronnie O'Sullivan praises Sheffield Wednesday fans after friendly visit to Hillsborough
He's a veteran of potting balls at the city's legendary Crucible Theatre - but snooker genius Ronnie O'Sullivan switched sports for an afternoon yesterday as he visited Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough stadium.
O'Sullivan, the five-time snooker world champion, took in Wednesday's friendly victory over Port Vale and later tweeted about the experience.
"Loved being at Hillsborough today," the 40-year-old said. "Good team and great fans. Love the song just before kick off."
Wednesday's official Twitter account replied to O'Sullivan, saying he was always welcome at Hillsborough, and the snooker star's original tweet was retweeted and 'liked' hundreds of times.
O'Sullivan was born in Wordsley, in the West Midlands, but grew up in Chigwell, Essex, and is reported to be a keen Arsenal fan. He often practices in the Steel City before big tournaments - at the Star Snooker Academy, based at Sheffield United's training ground in Shirecliffe - and films segments for his TV show there.
But he caused a stir earlier this year when he suggested that the World Snooker Championship should one day think about leaving its spiritual home of Sheffield, where it has been played since 1977, for a bigger venue.
"As the game grows and prize money grows I'm sure they might want to expand to somewhere where they can sell 4,000 or 5,000 tickets - which we could," O'Sullivan said.
"I am absolutely certain snooker could sell 4,000 tickets for the final and many other big matches in the right venue in the right place."
But the tournament will remain in Sheffield for at least another ten years - and tickets for the Crucible, which holds just 980 seats, are as in demand as ever.
"This is history here and our home," World Snooker boss Barry Hearn said.
"For those of us in the sport and viewers, it has staged moments we will treasure for our whole lives."