Michael van Gerwen unrecognisable 15 years on from first Sky Sports appearance

With his bald head and bright green shirt, Michael van Gerwen is probably the most recognisable figure in darts.

While the last couple of years haven’t been his best, the Green Machine remains one of the finest players on the planet. Van Gerwen has swept all before him over the last decade, winning three World Championships and a host of other TV majors.

But back on June 7, 2007, MVG was a little known teenager making his debut in front of the Sky Sports cameras as Bolton hosted the UK Open. Plenty had been heard, but little had been seen of the 18-year-old outside of his native Netherlands.

In his first match of the tournament, Van Gerwen was pitted against Chris McTernan and offered glimpses of his potential with an 8-1 victory. To mark 15 years since that occasion, Sky Sports have posted highlights of the match on YouTube.

The bright green shirt, which looks a couple of sizes too big for him, is present but otherwise it wouldn’t be obvious that the player in question was Van Gerwen, who has a full head of gelled spiky hair.

But the speed of play is certainly recognisable, which caught the eye of legendary commentators Sid Waddell and Nigel Pearson. Waddell, in particular, was adamant Van Gerwen was a star in the making.

“I’ve rarely seen talent like this,” roared the Geordie wordsmith. “James Wade is up there, Adrian Lewis is up there and, hey, we have the makings of another [Eric] Bristow, another John Lowe, another Jocky [Wilson]. He could storm this entire field, I’m not kidding.”

Is Van Gerwen the best player in the world? Let us know in the comments section below.

As it happened, Van Gerwen’s tournament was ended at the fifth round stage by Colin Osborne, with Raymond van Barneveld winning the trophy, having beaten his great rival Phil Taylor in the quarter-finals.

After his match against McTernan, MVG was interviewed by Sky’s Dave Clark, insisting he hadn’t played particularly well.

“You can beat everybody but also you can lose to everybody,” he said. “Normally I play better than that. When players are playing good, I am playing good also. When players are playing not that good, like the guy, he was not that good against me, it put me down a little bit, my game was not good.”

Asked if he would like to play Phil Taylor in the tournament, he immediately replied: “In the final.”

Clark pointed out he was not short of confidence, to which Van Gerwen replied: “If you say you are going to lose, you can go home.”

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