'I had contacted a solicitor. I had started writing a will' - Richie Sadlier reveals he contemplated suicide
Football pundit Richie Sadlier has revealed that he contemplated suicide after his injury enforced retirement from professional football in 2003.
After spending seven years at League One club Millwall, Sadlier retired from professional football in September 2003 after a debilitating hip injury curtailed his career.
The 38-year-old has since reinvented himself as a successful football pundit, columnist and podcast host, with his own show on the Second Captains podcast network titled The Player's Chair, in which Sadlier interviews former players and managers on a range of issues from both their careers and in football and life in general.
On the show's latest segment, Sadlier interviews former Ireland international Niall Quinn in which he tells Quinn of his suicidal thoughts after his retirement from football.
"I retired in the first week of September," said Sadlier on the latest episode of The Player's Chair.
"By December, I had contacted a solicitor. I had started writing a will. I lived in a house with a swimming pool in the back yard. My plan was to jump in there and not get out."
Sadlier said that he he developed a drinking problem in the aftermath of his retirement as a means of numbing the pain he had from having to walk away from football at age 23.
The former Belvedere forward said that his thoughts of suicide first prompted by a Millwall Christmas Party just a couple of months after he had announced his retirement.
"I was even unsure whether I should go – I wasn’t part of the squad, I wasn’t a Millwall player," Sadlier recalls at the time.
"The lads were great, one by one, they’d give me a little pat on the back and a hug and the slanty head, ‘God love you’.
"The 12th or 14th time, I thought, ‘This isn’t fun’. And I met Tim Cahill in the jacks, and to give him credit, what he wanted to say was something along the lines of, ‘Do you know what, having seen you go through what you’ve gone through, makes me appreciate more what I’ve got and I’m going to enjoy it more, and hope you’re ok.’ What he actually said in his drunken haze was, ‘Do you know what? The fact that I can still do the one thing you can’t makes me fucking buzzing.’
“I thought I was going to start crying. I quickly made a beeline for the exit. By the time I got there, I was crying.
It was lashing rain and pitch black. I lived about a mile and a half away and I couldn’t get a taxi because all the drivers are Millwall fans… That was the point that I thought I had no place in the world. I’m lost.”
The Dubliner soon sought therapy to address his depression before going on to complete a Counselling and Psychotherapy degree from the Dublin Business School, before earning an MA in Psychotherapy at the same school in 2014.
Sadlier and Quinn both called for improved pathways and programs in assisting footballers into retirement, while Sadlier also encouraged that those who are suffering with mental health issues to be honest about how they are feeling and to seek the help that they need.
"I think a lot more could be said about what people do to help themselves," said Sadlier.
"A lot of people can identify with feeling shite – you don’t have to be a sportsperson. OK, you’ve had that feeling. Where was the support? What were your options? Mine, I went to a therapist."
If you have been affected by the issues raised in this article please contact the Samaritans on 116123 for support or visit the website on www.samaritans.org.
Pieta House can be contacted on 1800 247 247. For more information on Pieta House and its services visit www.pieta.ie.