RONNIE O'SULLIVAN reckons he is snooker’s answer to football legend Diego Maradona.
The Rocket returns to action this month at China’s International Championship, after six months out following his fourth world title win.
O’Sullivan took a break and was involved in a contract row with supremo Barry Hearn.
But the controversial star, 36, says his status remains intact – despite the lengthy absence.
He said: “It has been a few months but it would take a generation to lose my status.
“Teenagers have watched me at the World Championship this year and thought, ‘I’ve seen Ronnie O’Sullivan, he plays snooker like I’ve never seen anyone else play’.
“They will remember me in ten years and talk about me in the way they talk about Maradona, Ayrton Senna, Jack Nicklaus or Mike Tyson.
“You don’t get forgotten in that bracket – but I’m not ready to retire yet.
“I feel as if there is still a lot left for me to give to the public. The one big disappointment of the past few months is that I haven’t done that. It has been an unusual situation for the reigning world champion not to be playing and I’m glad to be back.
“Despite what some people say about me, I love China and playing there.”
O’Sullivan got into hot water for making lewd comments during a press conference in Beijing in 2008.
But the new event in Chengdu, with a top prize of £125,000, is set to become the game’s fourth Major title.