Phil Taylor: 'I thought I was going to be beaten 7-0 in PDC final'
REPORTS of Phil Taylor's demise have been greatly exaggerated.
For years, pundits and rivals have waited for Taylor to admit defeat to the ticking clock and give way to Raymond van Barneveld or the youth of Adrian Lewis or 23-year-old Michael van Gerwen.
Back in 2004, he did retire after claiming his 11th world championship with a gruelling sudden-death victory over Kevin Painter – and talked of quitting again following this year's semi-final win over Barneveld.
But at the age of 52, Taylor is set to carry on throwing – and carry on winning.
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For Taylor, winning is everything. He has said before that he will retire when he knows he isn't good enough to win tournaments any more and going into the PDC Ladbrokes world championship final, he was expected to lose.
The bookmakers made Van Gerwen a 4/5 favourite – the first time Taylor has been a betting underdog since a Premier League match against Ray van Barneveld back in March 2007 – and pundits wondered about The Power's mental state.
Taylor issued a public apology following the spat that followed his semi-final win over Barneveld, talked about the possibility of retiring and when asked about Van Gerwen before the final, he said: "I've never seen a player like him before."
But in the hour before the match, Taylor, appearing in his 19th world final, was handling the pressure better.
Van Gerwen solemnly sucked on cigarettes outside the venue's back entrance, while Taylor chatted to well wishers and showed his confidence by handing the throw to the Dutchman after winning the nearest the bullseye.
Taylor won the second leg with a 170 checkout, but Van Gerwen, just eight months old when 'The Power' won his first world title in 1990, took everything that was thrown at him and responded with dazzling darts of his own.
Taylor applauded Van Gerwen off the stage after he snatched the opening set with a nerveless 140 checkout, while 'The Power' waited on 80 and another no-nonsense finish of 98 helped 'shrek' win the second set.
Taylor mouthed: "What can I do ?" to friends and family and admitted afterwards: "I thought it was going to be 7-0."
But instead, as he has done so many times before in a career that has brought him more than 100 titles, Taylor found the answers and everything changed after Van Gerwen missed two darts at a double to win the seventh set.
At 5-2, Van Gerwen could have relaxed and thrown his best darts, but at 4-3, he was looking over his shoulder as the legendary figure of Taylor spotted his chance to stamp his authority on the young Dutch pretender.
Taylor said he noticed a change in Van Gerwen's body language in the eighth set.
"He was lifting his leg when he threw, jerking and missing his doubles by an inch," said 'The Power.
"He looked like he was under pressure and I thought: 'Now's the time to hit him'.
"That's when I had to hit him as hard as I could."
For a shark like Taylor, those signs were akin to blood in the water and he didn't need a second invitation to steam ahead and wrap up yet another title triumph.
Taylor said afterwards that he was "full of admiration" for Van Gerwen – and added: "I've been through four or five generations now.
"They all come along saying they will win more titles than me, so I beat them. After that, another group comes along, so I beat them as well.
"I'm not going to retire. I will keep pushing on, keep trying to improve."