Luke Littler has been warned not to think he is the “big man” and stay humble despite his meteoric rise. The 17-year-old darts sensation backed up his World Championship run to the final by winning the Bahrain Masters, pocketing another £20,000 on top of his whopping £200,000 Alexandra Palace prize money.
But a rival that Littler knows very well, Nathan Aspinall, has offered some advice as he continues to impress. The pair share the same management and could meet at this weekend’s Dutch Masters where they are both seeded players, having practised together before Littler made it big.
“I’ve known Luke many years, I’ve practised with Luke, he is absolutely a phenomenal talent,” Aspinall told Planet Sport. “I practised with him before the World Championship, so I knew he was playing well. But the way he handled himself, he exceeded my expectations. He’s a fantastic player, a lovely kid.”
Aspinall has no worries about Littler’s darting abilities having joined the Premier League, but has warned him about thinking he’s the “big man” and taking his eye off of darts after becoming a household name.
“I think he can handle the darts,” Aspinall added. “I think it’s the other stuff that may have an effect on him. At the end of the day, he’s just a kid playing darts, he doesn’t care about the money, he just loves playing darts.
“I think playing darts every single day won’t affect him. I think the travelling and the media could have a bit of an impact on him. But I’m confident. He’s got the same manager as me. We’ve got a fantastic management team around us. As long as he doesn’t get ahead of himself and think he’s the ‘big man’ which I don’t think he will because he’s not that type of guy. I think he’ll be fine.”
Aspinall also believes that it is a certainty that Littler will get “burned out” on the professional tour, but has one key advantage as a teenager rather than an experienced adult with other priorities in their life.
He continued: “Will he get burned out? Yes. But every single player that plays in the Premier League and World Series gets burned out. Because it’s so demanding. He will be fine, he will cope with the darts. He will deal with the press in his own way. He will get burned out, but he just has to learn to manage his calendar.
“Unfortunately for Luke, because he’s just started on the Tour, he has to play in everything to get his ranking up. But he’s got a great team, he shouldn’t really get tired. He’s not 32 like us with kids to look after when he gets home.”