Barney: Never say Never.

OCHE legend Raymond van Barneveld has refused to rule out a return to the big stage. The five-times world champion bowed out on a stellar career with a disappointing first-round defeat at the Ally Pally to Darin Young last December.

However, the Dutch superstar has been back in the limelight by beating old foe Phil Taylor in a special Paddy Power online event during lockdown.

Now Barney has told Dutch chat show RTL Boulevard: “A comeback? People often ask about it and I’m not going to say ‘no’ out loud. In my system, I haven’t really finished it. Despite five world titles it is gnawing.”

The hugely-popular player acknowledges that he could not just return to the PDC circuit at the top level, it would be a daunting journey through getting a tour card from Q School and working his way back up the rankings.

But he didn’t rule out that route, adding: “Not for next year, but if it ever starts itching again, I will not immediately say ‘no’.”

Barney feels that he has unfinished business after his exit from the sport was well below the standard of his career.

He admitted earlier this year that he slumped into depression after his swansong at the Ally Pally ended in disaster.

A RETURN TO COMPETITION? (PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG) RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD GOES OUT OF THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP AND BOWS OUT OF DARTS.

RVB revealed: “When I was beaten by Darin Young it felt like the floor was gone under my feet. I was thinking: ‘Wow, this is not happening.’ I was really, really not myself. I gave the stupid interview to Sky Sports after that. 

“That was not me that was standing there. I was really in a mode like devastated and: ‘Wow, what I have done.’ I couldn’t believe it. This was my only and last chance ever. I couldn’t forgive myself. 

“Later that month I stayed with Julia, my girlfriend, in London, I was really depressed with Christmas as well. Never happy. She helped me through it. Then the first 1st of January I said to myself: ‘Ray, this needs to stop, you still have a fantastic life, had a fantastic life. A lovely new girlfriend. Kids and family.’ 

“I said to myself that now we will stop this. And show them the new better Ray in 2020. There are so many new things to live for, nice exhibitions, meeting new people. That is what I did. Three months later, I feel more energised, I don’t play with stress anymore, I play better than ever. There is no stress. I still travel a lot. 

“But you know there is no demand, it’s not like you have to play in all these tournaments. If I am thinking about not doing an exhibition, then I simply don’t have to do it. It’s like more like a free thing to join now, instead of playing all mandatory Premier League and EuroTours and Pro Tours.”