DENNIS Smith has warned anyone who continues to write off close friend and 16-time world champion Phil Taylor is likely to be disappointed in 2013.

The Power won his latest world title on New Year’s Day, beating Dutch youngster Michael van Gerwen in the final, and held onto his world number one ranking with ease despite increasing competition in the sport.

Over the last three years the 52-year-old has continually been written off with every blip in form, but Smith believes anyone who questions the greatest player in the history of the game does so at their peril.

“When people write him off it makes him thrive, and I suppose it is nice when that happens to him because Phil loves a challenge,” he said.

“If someone says to him they don’t think he will ever win another tournament he will go out there and prove them wrong.

“He is a battler and a grinder, and he has a hell of a working mind when he plays a tournament which I think most players wouldn’t mind having.

“You need a killer instinct in you, and Phil certainly has that and that is why he is the 16-time world champion.”

Smith and Taylor have competed alongside each other for more than 20 years, and the Swindon thrower is proud to be able to call The Power a friend. “Phil is a personal friend of mine as well as a sportsman, even though people try and say that you don’t really make friends in darts,” he said.

“It is very competitive but I have known Phil for 20-odd years, and we text each other taking the mickey out of each other all the time, and that is friendship rather than darts.

“It is nice to be associated with someone like Phil, and he is an amazing player and a great bloke.

“He has said he will retire at 55, and that is up to him, but he is more happy and more bubbly in himself at the moment and that is great to see.

“He loves the game, and winning the 16th title has just given him the motivation to carry on doing that.”