‘I beat Luke Littler when he was 12 – I was shocked and told his dad to give him a break’

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World Matchplay champion Nathan Aspinall recalled the first time he played and beat Luke Littler, who was criticised by his dad for his performance at just 12-years-old

World Matchplay champion Nathan Aspinall recalled the harsh treatment Luke Littler received from his dad after losing at just 12 years old.

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The current world No4 is a stablemate of Littler’s, with the pair sharing the same management, but their first encounter came half a decade ago when Aspinall was progressing up the PDC Order of Merit, and Littler had just started secondary school.

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Littler catapulted the popularity of darts during his incredible World Darts Championship appearance last year aged just 16, reaching the final where he was beaten by World No1 Luke Humphries. ‘The Nuke’ has become a household name in the sporting world, but his ability to go toe-to-toe with the world’s best has been there for years.

Speaking previously on MEN’s Manchester is Red Podcast, Aspinall recalled the first time he met and played against Littler, he said: “The first time I came across Luke, I think it was in Chester in a tournament and I beat him 4-3. I think he was aged four! No, he was around 12 and wow, I just thought ‘who is the kid?’.

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“I remember seeing his dad with him and he was dead critical of him because he’d lost. I was thinking mate, he’s 12, and I was in the top 16 in the world at that time and I said ‘give him a break’. His dad said ‘no, he needs to learn’ and that hard talk over the years has probably produced one of the best players in our sport. He’s amazing and what else can you say?”

Littler missed out on making it a hat-trick of nightly Premier League wins after he was stopped in the final by Michael van Gerwen last week in Birmingham, losing 6-3. The 17-year-old had won the two prior nights in Belfast and Manchester, where he beat Aspinall 6-4 in Northern Ireland.

“We’re all [darts players] sick of seeing his face on social media and that’s a credit to him,” Aspinall continued. “It’s not just the media who are obsessed with him, he’s bringing them to him.

“He had an amazing run at the Worlds, then hit a nine-darter against me in Bahrain, then he won a tournament, then he won the first Pro Tour and Euro Tour, so that’s full credit to him.”

 

 

 

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