AFTER an engagement that lasted nine years, snooker champ Ronnie O’Sullivan and his actress fiancée Laila Rouass have called time on their relationship.
Former Holby City star Laila used Instagram Stories to make the announcement on behalf of both of them yesterday.
The 50-year-old, who also played Amber Gates in Footballers’ Wives, wrote: “After nearly ten years of love and memories, Ronnie and I have decided to part ways.”
The Sun understands 46-year-old Ronnie has moved to Liverpool, leaving behind the marital home in Essex. But the pair have been steadily growing apart for months.
The split comes after Ronnie’s dad Ronnie Snr, 67, announced his own romance with 34-year-old Instagrammer Tiffany Kushner.
An insider told The Sun: “This has been a blow for poor Ron. Especially the same week his dad is showing off his new missus.
“Laila was a source of support to him but they have grown apart.
“At first they were telling friends Ron was off training, hoping things might get better between them. But now they’ve decided to stay separated.
“Ron’s calmed down a lot and he’s a really decent bloke. It seems to be a friendly split so hopefully we’re not seeing him return to the bad old days.”
Ronnie, from Chigwell, Essex, played in his first snooker World Championship at The Crucible aged 17 in 1993 — and he has gone on to lift the title six times.
But his early career was dogged by drink, drugs and depression — as well as a torrid family life.
In 1992, dad Ronnie Snr, a sex shop entrepreneur, was jailed for stabbing to death the driver of gangster Charlie Kray.
But Ronnie has always stood by his father, dedicating his first World Championship title in 2001 to him.
And as The Rocket’s career reached new heights, without his dad to guide him, he started to enjoy the high life a little too much.
Ronnie, who has three children of his own, said: “I was just partying a bit too much and like I said when I won that tournament I thought I’d made it.
“I’d come into a bit of money, I had a nice house, a nice car, I was single. So I could do what I wanted when I really liked. I just probably chose the wrong company but it just got hold of me really. I took my eye off the ball.
“I wasn’t really focused on snooker and I wasted probably five years of my career just messing about really.”
‘PARTYING A BIT TOO MUCH’
At the 1996 World Championship, O’Sullivan got in a press room scrap when his guest was asked to leave.
He later admitted assault and was handed a £20,000 fine and a two-year ban by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association.
The same year his Sicilian mother Maria was handed a one-year prison sentence for tax evasion.
When she returned home, she kicked out Ronnie’s girlfriend Sally-Ann Magnus who had moved in while she was in prison.
Ronnie’s boozing and drug-taking eventually led to their split shortly before the birth of their daughter, Taylor-Ann.
She told how she grew up with her father repeatedly letting her down, including when he once promised to wave to her on TV.
Taylor-Ann, 26, said: “I sat by that TV and waited — but he didn’t. That really upsets me.”
Now a mother herself, she told The Sun in 2018 how she had only met her father 12 times in her life and claimed he never had met his grandchild Zarah-Ann.
Uber driver Taylor added: “Having a really s**t parent has shown me what is important in life.”
After serving his snooker ban, Ronnie won the Irish Masters against Ken Doherty in 1998 — but was stripped of the title after testing positive for cannabis.
In the two years that followed, he carefully juggled his drug-taking around key tournaments. Writing in his 2014 autobiography Running, he said: “I remember getting to every World Championship and thinking, ‘I can’t wait til this tournament is over ‘cos then there’s no more drug tests, I can go out and smash it’.
“I’d got caught once in my career, but that’s all. I’d get tested between events, and I was trying to judge it perfectly so there’d be no drugs left in my system.”
Soon his habit of 15 pints of Guinness a day and back-to-back spliffs got the better of him — and he was begging to be admitted to rehab in 2000.
He later said: “First thing in the morning I was getting up, having a drink, having a joint, just to function through the day. Which never felt good because I thought, ‘I don’t want to have to rely on this sort of stuff’.”
He had a stint at clinic The Priory in 2000, and later that year lifted the Champions Cup.
After that victory, he said: “I’ve been on a treadmill of turmoil which has been a nightmare for my family and friends. This win is for the people that have stuck with me through all my problems.”
‘TREADMILL OF TURMOIL’
He met his second serious girlfriend Jo Langley at Narcotics Anonymous — and he credited her with helping him beat his addictions.
Despite getting clean, Ronnie still struggled with his mental health. At the UK Championship quarter-final in York in 2006 he walked out in the middle of a match against Stephen Henry.
He later said: “I was having a lot of problems at home, with my family life. I didn’t even want to be near a snooker table but I had to go and play because it’s work.”
Ronnie and Jo had daughter Lily in 2006 and son Ronnie Jnr in 2007 but split after eight years together. It came shortly after Ronnie was spotted leaving a car park with a mystery brunette at 1am.
He said: “You just grow apart sometimes. You go in different directions and that’s not my fault, that’s not her fault, that’s the way it is.”
After his exit from the 2008 China Open, he threw a noose in front of the Press. While his answers were being translated into Chinese he pointed to his groin and asked: “Do you want to suck that? Do you want to come and suck on that later? “Anyone want to give me a nosh? Suck my d**k.”
He later apologised for the outburst, saying his dad would have been disappointed. Ronnie Snr went on to play Cupid for him and Laila, a one-time lads’ mag favourite.
The actress, who competed on Strictly in 2009, was house-hunting and ended up looking around Ronnie’s home.
She said: “It happened by accident. I was shown around Ronnie’s house by his father, who told his son about meeting me. Ronnie called the estate agent and asked me out via her.
“When she said he was a snooker player, I said, ‘Yeah, but what does he do for a living?’. I’d never heard of him because sport doesn’t interest me at all, although Ronnie’s won me over to snooker.”
Laila, who already had daughter Inez with convicted fraudster Nasir Khan, told how she and Ronnie struggled to be a blended family.
Last year, she explained: “It’s a lie if people tell you that blended families are easy. He’s struggled with it, I’ve struggled with it and Inez has struggled with it.
‘I FEEL HELPLESS’
“It takes hard work and you have to be honest with yourself and each other.”
She added: “Initially I thought, ‘This guy is not step-dad material’. He’s a fantastic dad to his kids, but he was struggling with his own relationship with his family.”
Laila also had butted heads with Ronnie’s outspoken mum Maria, who dubbed her as**g.
Ronnie’s sister Danielle said in 2020: “Ronnie has given Mum so much help in the past. But when he asked her for £15,000 last year, he told me she said, ‘I’m not giving you money for that f***ing s**g!’
“She has shown me Laila’s number saved on her phone under ‘The revolving f***y’ and has apparently told Ronnie, ‘She’s just a prostitute, she’ll sleep with anyone’.”
But the couple supported each other through thick and thin, with Danielle admitting: “Ronnie is so in love with Laila.”
The actress leant on Ronnie as she and Inez were caught up in the 2017 Barcelona terror attack where 13 people were killed.
Ronnie kept them calm on the phone as they hid in a restaurant freezer. He said: “I felt helpless. I just wanted them both to be safe. We just kept talking. I was very nervous for them. She then started making her way back to her hotel amid the pandemonium. We kept talking until she got back into the room.”
Laila confessed the attack left a mark on her mental wellbeing. She said: “You start thinking that something catastrophic is going to happen. I get on a plane and I think it’s going to crash.”
But despite their bond, both hinted as recently as 2019 they were in no rush to get married.
Laila said: “I’d have to really gear myself up for a wedding. We’re enjoying our time so there’s no rush.”
Ronnie added: “If something’s not broke, why fix it? If it’s working, why change a winning formula?”
Now the relationship’s come to an end, let’s hope Ronnie keeps his formula on the snooker table.