Football legend Stanley Matthews inspired Phil Taylor to darts greatness

Darts icon Phil Taylor, the greatest player in the sport’s history, has opened up about what made him so good, and for so long.

The Power racked up an incredible 16 world titles during his career and played at the highest level until well into his 50s, retiring after losing the World Championship final to Rob Cross in 2018. Now 61, Taylor is back playing competitively again after joining the World Seniors Tour.

While darts doesn’t require the physical conditioning of other sports, it does demand supreme dedication and concentration, honed by hours and hours on the practice board.

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Taylor believes his extra dedication to his craft is what set him apart from his various rivals down the years. He has revealed speaking to fellow Stoke native Sir Stanley Matthews, who played top-level football into his 50s, was a source of inspiration.

“Do you know what made me do that? Stanley Matthew,” he told the Darts Show Podcast. “I used to meet Sir Stan a lot at Stoke before he passed away, bless him. He told me when he was at Blackpool he would be running on the beach at six o’clock in the morning before training, because the others weren't.

“When they finished training, all the lads would shoot off down the pub. He never did, he’d do another half-an-hour or hour training. It gave him the advantage.

“Mentally as well, it gives you a good attitude. If you go into a tournament and everything’s right, you know you’ve got a 99 per cent chance of winning it.”

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Taylor added: “That’s the hardest part, the spade work you have to do in the practice room, day in, day out, boring. On Christmas Day, before you had your dinner, you’re in there for two hours practising.

“That’s what you have to do, sacrifice. You can win tournaments, but it you want to be consistent then you’ve got to put the work in. Because you’ve got to fit, believe it or not. I know darts players aren’t athletes but you have to be mentally fit. Your arm’s got to right, your brain’s got to be right.”

The Power, a losing finalist at the World Masters Seniors in May, will be part of the field in Hull for the World Seniors Matchplay from July 1 to 3.


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