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Luke Littler: How darts sensation ditched football ambitions to make his mark on the oche | Darts News


Luke Littler’s decision to ditch his football ambitions for darts on the advice of his father could hardly have worked out better for him.

As a child, he pictured excelling in sport with a ball at his feet, but it is with a dart in his hand where the Manchester United fan has established himself as a force after a fairytale run to this year’s PDC World Championship final.

That was followed by Littler claiming his first senior television title at the Bahrain Darts Masters and earning a place in the Premier League, with his exploits catapulting darts back into the public consciousness too. Football’s loss, therefore, has very much been darts’ gain.

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Can Manchester United’s Harry Maguire or Christian Eriksen beat Littler in the darts challenge?!

“I didn’t want to do darts as a career, I wanted to play football,” Littler told Sky Sports.

“I was around nine or 10 when my dad said, ‘stop playing football and focus on the darts’. I agreed with it, and it’s paid off.

“I’d probably still be playing football now and have no interest in darts, but I’ve got a lot of interest and look where I am now.”

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Humphries anticipates many future finals with Littler as the two prepare to face each other on the opening night of the Premier League

Everything Littler has achieved so far is all the more impressive given he only turned 17 on January 21, although even then he did not have much time to celebrate due to his darting commitments.

But on that occasion the glitz and glamour of PDC televised tournaments was replaced by representing Aintree in the Merseyside Super League, followed by going out for a quiet birthday meal with his family.

“I actually played Super League,” Littler said. “I had a 32.32 [one-dart] average – that’s a 96.96 [three-dart average] – on my birthday, then me and my family went for a Chinese.

“It was good to sit with the family and just chill with them and have a nice meal. I think I was spotted by two people, so that’s not too bad.

“If I went out on a Friday or something it would be hectic.”

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Littler stunned Nathan Aspinall in the opening leg of the quarter-finals of the Bahrain Darts Masters by hitting a nine-darter

Much of the hard work for Littler and the other 127 PDC Tour Card holders takes place away from the public eye though, with appearances at the likes of the Winter Gardens and Alexandra Palace only secured thanks to performances behind closed doors in venues such as Wigan and Milton Keynes on the Pro Tour.

Transferring form shown on the floor to the big stage, with the rowdy audiences and television cameras on players, has proven a leap some struggle with, but Littler believes his relaxed approach has helped him with that transition.

“Any professional can throw high averages on the floor, so it’s all about taking it onto whatever stage you play on whether it’s Blackpool, Ally Pally – all these big stages,” Littler said.

“I still say it now, it takes a few legs to go in even though I hit a nine-darter against Nathan [Aspinall] in the first leg [at the Bahrain Darts Masters].

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Highlights of the 2024 World Darts Championship final between Humphries and Littler

“I’ve always said that it takes a few legs to find your rhythm and settle and that’s what I did throughout the majority of the tournament.”

The next big test for Littler comes with a World Championship final rematch against Luke Humphries on the opening night of the Premier League in Cardiff on Thursday – live on Sky Sports.

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The Love The Darts panel discuss how Littler will take to life in the Premier League

He is trying not to put too much pressure on himself to avenge the loss to Humphries in that final though, particularly after beating him en route to finishing runner-up to Michael van Gerwen in last weekend’s Dutch Masters, and is fully aware the rest of the competitors in this year’s Premier League will be gunning for him too.

“They’re all going to come for me, but I’ve seen the line-up and I play Luke on the first night,” Littler said.

“So, I’ll try to get my revenge on him and move to the semi-finals, but if it’s not to be then we go again for the remaining weeks.”

Premier League Darts returns to Sky Sports on Thursday February 1 as Cardiff kicks off the 17-week extravaganza all the way through to the Play-Offs on Thursday May 23. Stream darts and more on Sky Sports without a contract through NOW.



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