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Dani Sánchez, great person, feared killer at the table

Posted by on August 2, 2017

Dani Sánchez, great person, feared killer at the table

© Alison Chang
Dani Sánchez in de entourage van de World Games, op weg naar een nieuwe, grote overwinning

BARCELONA - The short stop between the World Games in Wroclaw and the Verhoeven Open in New York brings him back to his wife and daughter in his home town Barcelona. Then, after a few days, Dani Sánchez, the globetrotter among the billiard players, is leaving for the States, ready for a new challenge. The after party following his wonderful victory at the World Games wasn't that impressive, the atmosphere was relaxed. He needed two hours to finish the doping control, then waiting for the ceremony in the billiards arena, there were two, three short interviews and at the end a dinner with David Alcaide, the Spanish pole player, and some Japanese players and friends.

The Spanish world champion in three cushion showed at the 2017 World Games that he - and nobody else - is the very best and most successful billiard player over 2016 and now also over 2017. Three times, of the five times three cushion was played at the World Games, the victory went to Dani Sánchez, twice in a final against Dick Jaspers. The Catalan sports star rightly states: ,,This is the best period ever in my career.''

He missed home and family during all those travels, because more than six years ago he started with his brand DS (Dani Sánchez) a business venture in South Korea, with lots of activity in Japan and other foreign billiard countries. And last year, he and his business partners opened a brand new billiard room with a shop in Seoul. ,,I'm always on the road and rarely at home, because I have to travel to Asia for business, play tournaments and deal with associates. But it's my job, it's my life as I like to live it.''

His name has been established by all the wonderful successes in the major, global tournaments and competitions, since he captured his first world title in 1998 in French Rezé when he was 22. ,,I really don't have time to practice anymore'', Sánchez confesses. But anyway, Sánchez keeps on winning and winning, first and foremost because of his unmatched technical class, sense of creativity, force, but most of all his feared killers mentality.

Just ask Dick Jaspers (World Cup, Luxor), Haeng-Jik Kim (World championship, Bordeaux), Marco Zanetti (World Games, Wroclaw): when you ar near the finish in a match with Dani Sánchez, you must have the same feeling as football players facing the German national team. BBC commentator and former football player Gary Linneker once made a legendary statement: ,,Football is a simple game, 22 men are chasing the ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans are the winners.''

Besides the world championship (Bordeaux, 2016), Dani Sánchez won the World Cup in Luxor (2017), he was elected by colleagues and federations as Player of the Year (2016), won the Super Cup (Antwerp, 2017), he climbed up to the number one position on the world ranking and was winner of the World Games for the third time, now in Wroclaw.

Kozoom had an interview with the Spanish star player between the World Games and the New York tournament and put up 11 short short questions. So..., Dani Sánchez, a very nice, kind personality, a sociable smoker, relaxed in the circles of his many friends, always available for open faced interviews, in his almost perfect, funny Spanish/English.

Kozoom/Frits Bakker: After all these successive successes... Can you make a top 3 of the most glorious moments during 2016 and 2017?
Dani Sánchez: For me, without any doubt, winning the European Cup with FC Porto was the most wonderful moment. I was very excited and happy to finally achieve this victory with my team and to celebrate it with the whole FC Porto family. After that, winning the World championship in Bordeaux and, thirdly, the World Cup in Luxor with a new average record.

Kozoom/FB: How did you experience the final at the World Games against Marco Zanetti. Marco himself said that it was difficult for him to handle with the tension, that he partially lost the looseness and couldn't feel calm.
DS: It was definitely a hard match. Marco started fantastic and I had little confidence in the first part of the match. I couldn't get into my focus and was afraid for almost any position to miss. But at the end I came into my rhythm and sometimes I was a little lucky with some shots. It's always hard to play and battle with Marco, because he's such a great fighter. He made two mistakes in the final party, maybe it was due to the tension. But it's always like that: if you don't miss, you will always win.

Kozoom/FB: You told us, some years ago, with a smile: once I will die on the billiard table, because of all that pressure, again and again, to fight and win a match. You ever had a Spanish lady as a mental coach, do you still have?
DS: Ha, ha... It seems that I like to play under pressure and that I'm on my best in a hard fight. But all that pressure, all that tension, when you feel your heartbeats. I feel good when my head is fresh and I can fully concentrate on a match. The mental coach was a Spanish girl, she's still a good friend. We have contact, sometimes, but we don't work together. She just helps me if I need her.''

Kozoom/FB: How important were the World Games for you? And what did you feel, was billiards taken serious at the Games?
DS: You play for the colours of your country, for the honour and for nothing else. There is no prize money and there are no world ranking points. The medal is enough for me to be motivated. The Games were well organized, with a great entourage and atmosphere. And I felt very happy with my victory.

Kozoom/FB: How do you explain the two extremely strong years with so many victories, despite all the hustle and bustle as a businessmen and the time you spend with your family and friends?
DS: I own my billiard company for six years now and I learned to deal with it. That's not very easy. As I said, I never have time to practice anymore. But I feel really good, that's the most important thing. Having the good feeling, being fresh in your mind, able to fully concentrate on the game. That's more important to me than practice. When my head is fresh and good, I always play well. And of course, the experience is a major part to improve the game, to understand the game better and therefor gaining more self-confidence.

Kozoom/FB: I want to challenge you: the most technical players in the world are Caudron, Sánchez, Jaspers, Haeng-Jik Kim and Sayginer. The top five of mentally strong players, hard fighters are Zanetti, Jaspers, Sánchez, Sung-Won Choi, Merckx. Agree?
DS: Ha, ha ... yes, it could, but it's hard for me to agree.

Kozoom/FB: What about your private and family life: how do you manage to deal with it? Who are your best fans in your personal area?
DS: I must confess that it's hard to be out of the country for so many times in a year. My daughter Lucia is nine now. She likes to watch me playing billiards and often looks at my matches on Kozoom. My father Daniel and mother Josefina are my best supporters. They always look when I play, but they don't like to travel. When I play in Barcelona, they come and watch me. And about my friends, I have a few real supporters among them who support me everywhere.

Kozoom/FB: Next week to New York again, how long have you been away there?
DS: I was not there for eleven years, 2006 was my last time. It was usually a period in which I wanted to be home and spend our short holyday.

Kozoom/FB: Besides all the tournaments you play, in which league you play for a team next season?
DS: For FC Porto, of course, my home club. Further, only in Mallorca and in Italy.

Kozoom/FB: Who is your favourite player in the world top to compete with?
DS: Difficult to say. I like to play strong, under lpressure matches, whoever my opponent is. But anyway, I like playing with Nguyen, because his acts are very natural and original and he's always funny to watch from my chair.

Kozoom/FB: How difficult is it to recharge the battery for New York?
DS: Where-ever I play, I always want to improve myself and play my best. I'm always motivated and focussed, especially in New York, in a field with so many strong players. I look forward to be back there after so many years of absence.

The medal winners at the World Games: Dani Sánchez (gold), Marco Zanetti (silver), Sameh Sidhom (bronze)

Dani Sánchez (in front) with the Spanish billiard delegation at the World Games: Javier Palazón and the Spanish pool player David Alcaide

Dani after the ceremony with his good Japanese friend, the former world champion Ryuji Umeda






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