Mensur Suljovic describes his journey from war-torn Serbia to successful darts career
Last Updated: 22/12/17 7:16pm
Mensur Suljovic has described how he left war-torn Serbia to eventually live in Austria, via Macedonia, on his way to forging a successful career in darts.
The 45-year-old, who is at a career-high world No 5 in the PDC rankings, remains largely unknown outside of the darting fraternity, but has spoken to Sky Sports about the impact of the 1990s Balkans conflict on his life.
Suljovic, affectionately known as 'The Gentle' - the name of his former pub in Vienna - began his World Darts Championship campaign at Alexandra Palace with an assured 3-0 success over Kevin Painter.
"I lived in Serbia for 19 years," Suljovic told Sky Sports. "Then I went to Macedonia and then I went on to Austria.
"My brothers lived and worked in Austria. I arrived there when there was a war in Serbia. My brother was in the war in Serbia.
"My mum told me, 'please, not both of you here during the war' - you go with your brother in Austria."
Suljovic, who will continue his quest for a maiden world title against Robert Thornton on Friday, revealed few details of the difficulty he and his family faced during the war.
He added: "It was not a good moment in my life. My brother, family and my friends were there during the war - every aspect of daily life was not correct."
The Austrian has enjoyed a stellar 2017 which has included defeating Gary Anderson to claim September's Champions League of Darts - a maiden televised triumph to highlight his progression at the top echelons of the sport despite starting the game later than many of his counterparts.
Suljovic, who first played the game at his brother's cafe, said: "My brother was one of many to play soft-tip darts and he said to me 'come and play with me' and I said 'I have never played', but I did ok.
"He said to me 'for the first time it is good'. From then I played every day!"
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The Gentle has struggled to showcase his best darts at Alexandra Palace and his best run at the World Championships came on his way to the last 16 in 2011 and 2016.
On his chances of winning the biggest tournament in the sport, Suljovic said: "To become a world champion is very hard.
"Everybody plays with a sense of pressure. I have never played well at the World Championship."
The No 1 Austrian in the PDC revealed that he thrives off the support from the crowds and admits the sport holds an important sentimental value.
"I think I play for Austria," said Suljovic. "I see the public on my side shouting my name and think it is nice for me. I have a good feeling and am happy every time.
"If I win one game, one tournament I am happy. I love darts. The darts is Mensur!"
2018 World Championship from Alexandra Palace continues on Friday night with coverage underway from 7pm on Sky Sports Darts and ending with the final on New Year's Day.
Keep up to date with the news as the PDC celebrates 25 years on Sky Sports. So get all the latest at www.skysports.com/darts and join in the conversation @SkySportsDarts - don't forget to use #LoveTheDarts