Raymond van Barneveld is set to make a sensational return to professional darts after announcing plans to attend the PDC Qualifying School in 2021 in a bid to win back his place on the circuit.
Five-time World Champion Van Barneveld, one of the sport's most successful and renowned players, is set to play at Qualifying School for the first time as he attempts to win back a PDC Tour Card, having relinquished his professional status at the end of 2019.
The 53-year-old's last appearance on the PDC stage ended in heartbreak with a shock first round exit to Darin Young at the 2019/20 William Hill World Darts Championship, the final part of a retirement plan which was first announced in November 2018.
Van Barneveld endured a disappointing farewell year in 2019, and after elimination from the Premier League in Rotterdam in March announced his intention to retire immediately, a decision he reversed the following day.
A run to the final of the NZ Darts Masters on the World Series of Darts circuit proved the high point of his 2019, and the Dutchman will have a return to the sport’s biggest stages in his sights as he heads to Qualifying School.
The Dutch legend joined the PDC circuit in 2006 and went on to rack up 29 PDC titles, including his famous 2007 World Championship triumph and wins in the 2012 Grand Slam of Darts and 2014 Premier League.
Ahead of his return to the sport, Van Barneveld has linked up with former manager Ben de Kok, who also works with current PDC world number 24 Jeffrey de Zwaan.
Van Barneveld has enjoyed a close friendship with compatriot De Zwaan, mentoring him on the way to winning his PDC Tour Card as a teenager in 2015.
"It's very simple. I miss it. I miss it terribly," Van Barneveld explained to RTL News.
"I think the decision [to retire] was the right one, but I have now had a lot of time to think about it. Then I realised I miss it terribly.
"I now have a unique opportunity to realise my dream and to work in a team. I think that is the solution for me.
“Because I haven't been myself for the past two or three years, you don't always make the right decisions.
"Your head is haunted and you're a nightmare for everyone. But that's different now. I'm looking forward to it.
"I signed for three years, so we have the chance to at least get a tour card for three years.
"If I want to get my tour card, I will have to do my best."
Details for 2021 Qualifying Schools will be confirmed in due course.
The PDC Qualifying School gives the chance to any darts player aged 16 and above the chance to compete to win a PDC Tour Card, with events usually being held in the UK and Europe in January each year.