Richie Sadlier is a former professional footballer, currently working as a television pundit and psychotherapist. He is a regular contributor to RTÉ radio, and the Second Captains sports podcasts, presenting The Player’s Chair. He also writes regularly for The Irish Times. In his new memoir, Recovering (Gill Books), he shares his experiences on and off the football pitch, including his struggles with alcoholism and difficult family relationships, and reinventing himself.
Richie will be in conversation with Lynn Ruane on Saturday 16th November at 4pm. Find out all the details here.
What made you decide to write a memoir and why now?
I felt like I was comfortable for people to know my story, but I was also really drawn to the task of writing it. I thought I’d get a lot out of that process, and thankfully I was right!
You discuss the old school style of coaching, which seems very much connected with an antiquated idea of masculinity. There are several obvious psychological and physical benefits to the modern style of coaching, but are there other positives that might be less apparent to people?
I think challenging people to come up with solutions themselves, and encouraging them to take greater responsibility in their own decisions has obvious advantages in a young footballer’s all-round development as a person. Certainly it’s better than roaring at them for making mistakes or trying to motivate them by threatening further punishment if they don’t succeed.
You mention shame a lot in the book in regard to alcoholism, sexuality, and abuse. Do you think Ireland is still plagued with these feelings of shame the way it was when you were younger?
I know there are a lot of conversations and initiatives taking place now that would have been unthinkable back then. Cultural change takes time, but I do believe change is happening. Too many people consider themselves victims or casualties of the old way and are determined not to inflict the same onto future generations. The more people talk, in a setting that’s comfortable to them, the greater recognition there will be for the need to change our approach.
You talk about football as your escape when you were a child. Do you have any particular coping mechanisms that you use now when things get difficult?
The Forty Foot is a place like no other for me. Throwing myself in there any day of the year gets instant results! Generally, I have a list of things that help me get more out of the good days and deal better with the bad days – exercise, weekly therapy, switch my iphone off, walk my dogs, speak openly to a trusted friend. They all help.
Tickets to Richie Sadlier in Conversation with Lynn Ruane at Dublin Book Festival can be booked here.