PETRA MIHÁLYI 2022.05.17 22:50 Frissítve: 2022.05.17 22:50

Phil Taylor: It's always darts, I'll never get rid of it– exclusive interview

The living legend of darts, 16-time world champion Phil Taylor of Great Britain, started out in difficult financial circumstances. He was discovered by five-time BDO world champion Eric Bristow, whose pub he went to throw, and Taylor began his career with his support.  Although Taylor is less active now, he still plays darts at the age of 61. We chatted with him on Monday before the Hungarian Darts Show in Budapest on Tuesday.

Phil Taylor invested his money in apartments (Photo: Károly Árvai)

 

– Did Eric Bristow support you financially or was there a deeper mentor-student relationship between you two?
– We trained together, and he showed me two possible methods to check out, which was to my advantage, but the main support was financial assistance because I had to travel to the tournaments – Taylor told Nemzeti Sport. – Not only within the country, but also to Canada, Denmark, Sweden, and Belgium. Ten thousand pounds was an awful lot of money then, it was worth as much as, say, fifty thousand pounds today, I would not have had a chance to start anything on my own. The only condition was that I would have him back the money from what I won.

Did you have to give him your prize money, or did you deduct only a certain percentage of it as an installment?
– My entire prize money. But I was also motivated by the situation because if I had accidentally sat down to rest, he would have said to me: what? You still owe me £3,000 - go back to training. When I paid off my debt, he said, "Well, now it's all yours." It felt really good.

What was the hardest thing about your career?
– When I was faced with having to pay a million pounds of income tax! But the emotional roller coaster was the most stressful. It works strangely: sometimes you win a world championship, and the euphoria goes away quickly, then comes the nothing and you almost mourn. Then, you'll be very happy again after your next world title, and you're on cloud nine. You have one or two tournaments in a row where you perform outstandingly, which motivate you, and then comes an unsuccessful one. These ups and downs are difficult to handle.

How did you handle it then?
– I just had to. It's easy when you're young, you can handle that with a little bit of sleep only, but as time goes on... That's why my game isn't that good anymore, but I don't really want it to be anyways.

– What got you through the ups and downs?
– Commitment. If I had come here, I wouldn't have seen anything of the town because I spent my whole days at the hotel. I didn't go anywhere, I rested between games, and I did everything I could to be the best. I missed a lot of things in my life, but I was lucky enough to be able to go back to most places later on for vacation, so I could look around.

Photo: Károly Árvai

I'm sure there were a lot of moments of serenity...
– When a player fell off the stage, it always made me laugh – it happens from time to time. The most amazing thing, however, was when Scooby-Doo beat Superman in a tournament. I told myself, it can't be true that that dog is settling a superhero's hash!

In hindsight, would you change anything?
– If I could go back in time? Oh, a lot of things. I was too committed, too money-oriented. I was always on the road. If I was at a gala in London on Monday, I was definitely 200 miles away on Tuesday, and then I traveled again the next day. I also drove by myself, even thousands of miles. I wore out a lot of cars in a year. I almost went home to just do my laundry – I had three suitcases, I changed them, I left the used one at home, picked up the pre-packed fresh one, and I left. I burned the candle at both ends.

– How do you spend your years these days?
– I don't play that much anymore. I have several weeks or even several months between events. I could play every week, but now I enjoy being a little more relaxed. I still have my sponsors, I have a good time.

What did you do with the money you earned?
– I invested in apartments, I bought a couple in London, but if I had been smarter, I would be worth even more today. Nowadays, you can earn so much with darts that after 10 years of competing, you can retire if you play well.

It's obvious that darts has given you a lot – what have you given the sport?
– A lot. Mostly my life, and that's the most I could give. When I started playing, the press didn't care about darts. And then I came, and I just won, and won, and won... And the media were almost forced to write about it, and it attracted people's attention. And it's a never-ending story. Even if I go to a café or the gas station, they'll find me everywhere. It's always darts, darts, and darts... I'll never get rid of it.

Translated by Vanda Orosz

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