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Premier League Darts 2021: Jose De Sousa on cusp of making Premier League history

The 2021 Premier League Darts season concludes this week, with five consecutive nights culminating with the Play-Offs on May 28. Watch all the action live on Sky Sports

Image: Jose De Sousa has made a striking impression on his Premier League Darts debut

Jose De Sousa - the maximum machine. The man aptly nicknamed 'The Special One' is living up to the billing in this year's Premier League, and now he is dreaming of lifting the coveted title on debut in Milton Keynes.

De Sousa is one of three debutants featuring in this year's showpiece and he currently occupies a play-off place, sitting in fourth position following 12 nights of action.

The Grand Slam champion is also threatening to shatter the tournament's 180 record - set by Gary Anderson a decade ago.

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'The Flying Scotsman' landed 79 maximums en route to his 2011 Premier League triumph, but De Sousa has already notched up 66 180s, with a minimum of four games remaining.

Portugal's Man O'Scores also achieved perfection on Night Four against Nathan Aspinall - his second televised nine-darter, yet he was forced to wait until Night Five to register his first victory.

"I started the Premier League a little bit disappointed because I think I deserved maybe one or three wins more. I was a little bit unlucky with my doubles," De Sousa told the Darts Show podcast.

"I keep pushing and pushing to get better and better, which you have to when you are playing top players every night. I am very happy."

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The 47-year-old was three points adrift of safety prior to his Night Five clash against stablemate Dimitri Van den Bergh, but he has lost just one of his last 10 games, where he succumbed to an inspired Michael van Gerwen.

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Jose De Sousa landed a spectacular nine-darter during his 6-6 draw against Nathan Aspinall on Night Four

However, his run-in could not be much tougher. He faces the three players above him in Van Gerwen, Aspinall and Van den Bergh, while he also takes on fifth-placed Jonny Clayton, with leg difference currently separating the pair.

"I hope I can win against some of these guys," De Sousa added. "It is not easy because they are all difficult players to beat, so I hope I can make big things with these four guys.

"It is good to see the crowd again, back to the darts. It is nice to see how much they enjoy our darts, and I hope to make a lot of 180s for the crowd.

"In the beginning, the crowd behind me made me a little bit nervous. Now I am prepared for the crowd.

"What really changed for me was when I changed to my new darts one-and-a-half years ago - they are the perfect darts for me, they gave me so much confidence."

De Sousa's Premier League Stats (Darts Orakel)

Tournament Average: 99.65
First nine-dart average: 109.64
180s: 66
Checkout percentage: 42.29%
Ton-plus averages: 6

It has been a meteoric rise for De Sousa, who only won his PDC Tour Card in January 2019. Despite his considerable soft-tip experience, his steel-tip exploits were limited, yet he scooped his first PDC ranking title in September of that year, and the rest is history.

Just over 18 months later, 'The Special One' is a major PDC winner and an established figure within the darting elite, and he admitted it's been a life-changing experience.

"My life has changed a lot. I buy my house, I buy my car, my life is nice in Spain. I have a wonderful wife, so everything right now is good for me.

"I don't have to think any more about money to pay my bills, so now it is easy for me to play darts.

"If you want this work, you have to make some sacrifices, but it is easy to make these sacrifices if you have the support of your family and friends, so it's more easy to do this.

"To win the Premier League is a dream for all the players and if I can do that, I will be a very, very happy man."
De Sousa dreaming of PL glory...

"Of course it is not easy to take too much time far away from my family, but that's what it is. I accept and my wife accepts. She supports me 200 per cent so it is good."

De Sousa is a compelling character. He is the epitome of composure and rarely displays any emotion on stage, although his maverick approach - particularly in the finishing department - makes him a fascinating watch.

Miscounts, maximums, huge combination finishes - matches involving Portugal's darting pioneer are rarely short of drama, but make no mistake, Jose De Sousa is one of the world's best.

He boasts the third-highest tournament average in this year's Premier League, and he's already registered six ton-plus averages in 13 matches - only Michael van Gerwen and Phil Taylor have posted more in their debut seasons.

De Sousa - a kitchen fitter by trade - is refusing to get carried away, though he concedes that lifting the Premier League title and scooping the £250,000 top prize would be a 'dream'.

"He is the Special One. In practice, he is the best player I've ever witnessed. I think the day he puts his practice darts, you will see 120+ averages."
Durrant on De Sousa...

"I don't have to make too much noise when I make a big finish in the leg. I just take it as normal thing, like my work. I respect the players so much.

"Sometimes I will celebrate a couple of moments, but maybe it is because I needed to do that to take the pressure off. Usually, I don't do anything. I only play darts of course.

"I don't expect anything. I take it match-by-match and try to play my best. To win the Premier League is a dream for all the players and if I can do that, I will be a very, very happy man."

The 2021 Premier League concludes next week, with five consecutive nights culminating with the Play-Offs on Friday, May 28. Watch all the action live on Sky Sports.

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