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The Incredible Story Of How Michael Van Gerwen Became The Best Darts Player In The World

The Incredible Story Of How Michael Van Gerwen Became The Best Darts Player In The World

It was a scene like no other. "ohhhh Michael van Gerwen, ohhhh Michael van Gerwen" echoed around the iconic Alexander Palace like never before. This wasn't just your average game of darts.

It was the biggest statement this sport has witnessed since Phil Taylor lifted his 16th World Championship in 2013.

Michael van Gerwen punched the air in typical Van Gerwen fashion as he celebrated a dominant 7-3 victory over defending champion Gary Anderson at the PDC World Championship final. It was a performance that left even his biggest critics in awe.

He averaged 107.79 in the final and hit 20 180s. Five 100+ finishes helped him over the line, end with a checkout percentage of 44.26%, Van Gerwen was simply unstoppable that night.

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At the age of 27, 'Mighty Mike' has made a huge impression since he came to play in the BDO age 16, and his story from playing darts with his mates at the age of 13 to hitting two perfect legs in the third round of the UK Open qualifying event in Wigan, is certainly an interesting one.

Michael was born on the 25th April 1989 in a town called Boxtel. In his early years, Van Gerwen was blissfully unaware of his darting talents as another sport dominated his childhood.

Like any other youngster in the Netherlands at the time, he strived to make a name for himself in football.

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Van Gerwen imagined his name being sang by thousands at PSV Eindhoven'S famous Philips Stadion, but in an interview with MailSport, he admitted that he was actually "really rubbish":

"Everyone starts off wanting to play football. That's what you want to be. I am a really big PSV supporter and that was it. In my time as a youngster, it was Ruud van Niistelrooy who was the hero." he said.

"But I was really rubbish. I was like a little Michelin Man walking about. I needed to find something else.

"I'd ended up a defender but I could have spent 24 hours a day with a ball at my feet and I would never have improved and never have got there in my life."

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At the age of 13, Van Gerwen hung up his boots and swapped leather for tungsten after his father bought a dartboard for their house in Boxtel. He immediately warmed to the sport and clearly recognised that his talent lay in darts, rather than playing football like "a little Michelin Man walking about."

In an interview with MODUS darts, the Dutchman explained how his darting career began:

"It started when I was about 13-years-old. I would play darts with friends at my house or theirs. We switched it around and I liked the game. I started to enter and win a lot of youth tournaments. If you are playing well and picking up little cups or trophies, you think that you are really good."

"The next step was to get myself onto the circuit. At first I played in a lot of local leagues and local youth events."

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Just a year after throwing his first darts, MVG reached the final of the Primus Masters Youth event in 2003 at the age of just 14.

This was just the start for Michael as his remarkable development in the game gained the attention of plenty.

Soon after his success in the Primus Masters, he picked up several youth titles in 2005 including the German Open, German Gold Cup, Norway Open, Northern Ireland Open, Swedish Open and the Dutch National Youth Championship.

WATCH: Rare footage of Michael Van Gerwen as a youngster on Trans World Sport

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But as a teenager, he didn't let this darting success go to his head. Van Gerwen worked as a tiler to earn money for his travels.

In an interview with The Mirror in 2013, the Dutchman revealed how we worked on Dennis Bergkamp's bathroom.when he worked as a tiler back home in Holland:

"Yes, it's true - when I was a teenager, I used to work as a tiler back home in Holland, and the biggest job I ever had was putting up the tiles in Dennis Bergkamp's bathroom.

"He lived in a massive house near Hilversum, it was a beautiful place and the kind of luxury you can only dream about when you are a kid starting out as a darts player.

"We had to make sure we did a really good job on it. You don't want to mess up when you are working for a legend like Bergkamp. When I was fitting those tiles, I never thought I would be a millionaire by the time I was 24."

"But it proves that if you work hard and do well at the major tournaments, you can make a good living out of being a professional darts player. I don't think I would have been this rich if I had worked as a tiler until I was 70."

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The hard work was paying off and Michael Van Gerwen was dominating the youth circuit, not long after throwing his first darts.

MVG's first big break came after his incredible success in national tournaments. Master Darts, who still sponsor the 27-year-old, entered him into the Norwegian Open. Not only did he play in the youth tournament, but 'Mighty Mike' was allowed to play in the men's event.

Some say that the Norwegian Open significantly helped Van Gerwen's already fledging career. He won both the youth and men's events. The rest is history.

The 27-year-old then joined the BDO, where he quickly reached number one in the rankings. In his second year, Michael went on to win the Winmau World Masters when he was 17-years-old. 2007 was a really important year for the player.

He became the youngest ever player to do a televised nine dart finish at the Masters of Darts - he was just 17 years and 298 days old.

10 years on from that memorable day, MVG is at the peak of his career. I could rattle through his achievements but that would take way too long - which speaks volumes about his success at a relatively young age.

The future looks bright for Mighty Mike.

What a story.

Topics: Michael Van Gerwen, Story, world championships

Jack Kenmare

Jack Kenmare is a writer at SPORTbible. He's interviewed some of the biggest names in sport, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Pele, Carles Puyol and Tim Henman. He dabbles in all things sport but football is his biggest passion. He was once hit in the head by a wayward strike from Nicky Butt and lived to tell the tale.

 

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