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Declan Rice and Aaron Ramsdale's message to Luke Littler ahead of £50,000 Raymond van Barneveld encounter

Declan Rice and Aaron Ramsdale's message to Luke Littler ahead of £50,000 Raymond van Barneveld encounter

They had a message for the youngster.

Luke Littler revealed what Arsenal stars Declan Rice and Aaron Ramsdale told him ahead of his Raymond van Barneveld encounter.

Warrington-born Littler has lit up London's Alexandra Palace with a remarkable World Championship run on his tournament debut, having already recorded resounding wins over Christian Kist, Andrew Gilding and Matt Campbell.

But the 16-year-old, the youngest player ever to reach the last 16 of the World Championship, faces is toughest test yet on Saturday - five-time world champion Van Barneveld.

The Dutchman, set up the last 16 clash with Littler, 40 years his junior, by beating Wales’ Jim Williams 4-1 on Friday.

And ahead of the heavyweight clash on Saturday evening, Littler revealed he had been given words of encouragement from Arsenal and England duo Rice and Ramsdale.

Last week, the pair asked to have their photo taken with Littler, who was staying at the same London hotel Arsenal use for their home matches.

And the 16-year-old darts prodigy revealed the Arsenal pair told him to keep up his hot streak ahead of his Van Barneveld encounter.

“I said, ‘They want a picture with me?’” Littler told the Telegraph. “They came out and they were like, ‘You’re smashing it. Can’t believe you’re only 16. Just keep it up’.”

Since the start of the World Champions, media outlets have drawn comparisons between Littler and teen prodigies from other sports, including Brazil icon Pele and Wayne Rooney.

Littler said: “It’s just mad people comparing me to these footballers who’ve scored over 300 goals. It’s crazy. While I’m just throwing darts.

“On social media, my followers are going up.

“Getting followed by people who I’ve looked up to. Like footballers. It’s just crazy the past week or two since I’ve been down here.”

Littler has already earned £35,000 for making it to the last-16 at Alexandra Palace. He will pick up £50,000 if he secures a win over Van Barneveld in the next round, and should he stun the darts community by becoming world champion, he will receive a whopping £500,000 cheque.

Featured Image Credit: PDC/YouTube & Luke Littler via Instagram

Topics: Football, Declan Rice, Aaron Ramsdale, Arsenal