RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD ended nine years of disappointment as he defeated Phil Taylor and Michael van Gerwen in one glorious night at The O2 in London as he lifted the Betway Premier League Darts title.
The Dutch superstar won past the semi-finals of the tournament for the first time in seven attempts as he also ended his hoodoo against Taylor, who he had never defeated in the tournament in almost a decade.
Taylor had taken an early 4-1 lead in their semi-final as he set out his stall for a seventh Premier League Darts title.
However, the Stoke great missed six darts to move 5-2 up as the Dutchman pounced to win five successive legs in moving 6-4 up, before going on to claim an 8-5 triumph with an 11-dart leg.
He then returned to the stage against reigning champion van Gerwen, and though he trailed after van Gerwen opened the final with two 180s in claiming the opening leg in 13 darts, van Barneveld took command with some superb darts.
The five-time World Champion won three successive legs to move 3-1 up, and though van Gerwen hit two 11-dart finishes as he pulled back to level at five-all, van Barneveld found another gear to pull away.
The 47-year-old took four successive legs to move 9-5 up, including a 12-darter and two 13-dart legs, with a 110 checkout from van Gerwen keeping him in the game briefly before a fifth 180 of the final helped van Barneveld to set up double ten for glory.
“This means the world to me – I can’t describe how happy I am,” said van Barneveld, who scoops £150,000 for the victory. “I’ve worked really hard this season and every week was tough, but I really enjoyed it.
“The Premier League is something else because you’re playing with the best players in the world every week, in the best venues in the UK and Ireland.
“Nine years ago I joined the PDC and got a Wildcard to play in the Premier League and I thought this was the best event in the world – but I’ve never been able to get past the semi-finals!
“In the first five or six legs against Phil I didn’t play my best game, but he let me in and gave me some chances, and I hit my doubles. To then beat Michael in the final is great.
“The first aim was not to be relegated after nine weeks, and then the second target was to make the top four. The third target was then to get into the final, and the fourth target was winning the whole thing.
“Maybe in the final I lost all pressure. It felt like a relief beating Phil for the first time in the Premier League, but it’s all about faith and belief, and if you never ever believe then you can’t achieve anything.
“Even though I lost against Michael and Gary Anderson in the last two weeks of the season, I still believed I could win this – and I was right.
“Sometimes you think that maybe you’re getting some help from above, and when Phil missed six darts at double 16 you begin to wonder. To be 5-2 or 4-3 was a big difference, but maybe some nights you need some luck.”