By his own admission, Raymond van Barneveld was a broken man when he crashed out of the 2020 World Championship in the first round.
Having been stunned by the little-known Darin Young, Van Barneveld walked away from the sport, seemingly for good. But barely a year later he was back on the oche, earning his Tour Card back and winning an early Players Championship event in 2021.
There was further upheaval, though. His house collapsed, his parents suffered from ill health and he had a health scare of his own. But Van Barneveld, 55, is in a much better now, both professionally and personally, and his fiancée, Julia Evans, 18 years his junior, is a major factor in that.
READ MORE: Raymond van Barneveld didn't want TV coverage of disastrous World Championship debut
Barney proposed to Evans in Paris in front of the Eiffel Tower earlier this year. After she said yes, he posted on social media: “I asked Julia to marry me in Paris this weekend and she said yes. I’m over the moon, I love you so much.”
Van Barneveld, who is divorced from his wife of 25 years, Silva, reportedly began dating Evans in 2019 after meeting at a darts event in Southampton. The couple are due to get married in Cyprus next September and plan to settle in the Netherlands.
Speaking during his brilliant run to the semi-finals of the Grand Slam of Darts last month, he described Evans as the “love of my life”.
“I was struggling for many years and now with Julia, we’re going to marry next year. She’s the love of my life and I’m happy,” he gushed.
Van Barneveld defeated world number one Gerwyn Price twice during that tournament, and the tungsten titans will meet again in a blockbuster third round tie at the Alexandra Palace tonight (Tuesday).
Van Barneveld vs Price – who wins? Tell us in the comments section below
Speaking ahead of the tournament, knowing a rematch with Price was on the cards, Barney insisted he was under no pressure.
“For me, playing the world number one is no pressure,” he said. “I’m 32 in the world. I love to play Gerwyn on stage and, if lose, which I don’t expect, you’re losing to the world number one, which is not a shame, right?
“There is no pressure. I’m over the moon that I did so well at the Grand Slam, I showed the world that I’m still able to do it.”
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