Raymond van Barneveld announces retirement after Premier League defeat
Five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld announced his immediate retirement after a Premier League loss to Michael van Gerwen in Rotterdam.
The Dutchman's elimination from the tournament was confirmed on Wednesday after his defeat by Daryl Gurney.
After a rousing reception in front of a packed home crowd, reigning world champion Van Gerwen raced to victory.
"For me, I've made a decision, I'm done now," the 51-year-old said in his post-match interview with Sky Sports.
"I don't want the pain anymore. It's good to see that everyone loves you but they don't have one single clue what I'm going through.
"It's pain every single week for for the last three or four years. There's never a feeling, apart from winning the World Cup with Michael [Van Gerwen], like 'Hey, Ray, come on, we're back'."
Van Barneveld, known as 'Barney', had announced in November that he would retire following the PDC World Championships at the end of 2019.
A lack of form in this season's Premier League culminated in his elimination on Wednesday, prompting him to say he was bringing his retirement date forward.
However, in a later post on Van Barneveld's Twitter page, his manager Jaco van Bodegom said: "Raymond had had a very tough two nights and in all his emotions he said he was going to retire right away.
"I just spoke with him and we agreed it is better to take a couple of days to clear the mind and think about the future."
The end of an era?
One of the greatest darts players of the modern era, Van Barneveld is one of only three players to win five world titles.
He won the British Darts Organisation (BDO) title in 1998, 1999, 2003 and 2005 before moving to the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) and beating Phil Taylor in the 2007 world final.
The former world number one has won 29 PDC titles over his career, including two UK Opens, the Grand Slam of Darts and the Premier League.
He also became the first player to achieve a nine-dart finish in both the Premier League in 2006 and the PDC World Championship three years later.
Despite reaching the semi-final stage of the inaugural 2017 Champions League of Darts and final of the 2018 Masters, he has struggled of late to continue the form that once saw him challenge the great Taylor's dominance following his switch to the PDC in 2006.
Week nine round-up, Rotterdam
In week nine's other matches, Rob Cross beat Dutch "contender" Jeffrey de Zwaan, a result that means all nine players to have filled in for the injured Gary Anderson have failed to register a win in the tournament.
Elsewhere, Gurney overcame Mensur Suljovic in the first match of the evening, Gerwyn Price came from behind to defeat Peter Wright and James Wade beat Michael Smith.
Daryl Gurney 7-3 Mensur Suljovic
Peter Wright 5-7 Gerwyn Price
Rob Cross 7-4 Jeffrey de Zwaan
Raymond van Barneveld 1-7 Michael van Gerwen
James Wade 7-4 Michael Smith