‘For years I never told anyone’: Richie Sadlier reveals he was sexually abused as a child

Former Irish soccer player abused when he was 14 by man treating him for sports injury

Richie Sadlier: ‘I thought it was my failing and the more I thought of it as that the more determined I was that you or anybody else would never find out’. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish times.

Richie Sadlier: ‘I thought it was my failing and the more I thought of it as that the more determined I was that you or anybody else would never find out’. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish times.

 

Former Irish soccer player and RTÉ pundit Richie Sadlier has revealed that he was sexually abused as a child.

Mr Sadlier said he was abused when he was 14 years old over a period of about six weeks by a man that was giving him treatment for a sports injury.

“For years I never told anyone and for years I used it as the proof that I was a failure, not just that I behaved in a disappointing way but me as a person was fundamentally a failure,” he told RTÉ’s Late Late Show on Friday night.

Mr Sadlier said his abuser has since passed away and that for years he blamed himself.

“My interpretation of what happened was that this was my failing...I almost gave him a free pass. It’s a weird thing to explain. Why didn’t I stop it, why didn’t I run, why didn’t I hit him back? Why didn’t I tell someone, why did I go back? I tormented myself with those questions for years,” he said.

“My thoughts were completely bonkers about the whole thing. I thought it was my failing and the more I thought of it as that the more determined I was that you or anybody else would never find out,” he added.

Mr Sadlier described himself as being “very confused, silent and afraid” as a 14-year-old in the room with his abuser. He said he made various attempts to speak about his abuse over the years, including telling an adult at a training session.

“I told him a couple of things. I said I have to get naked for every session and I told him one other thing that was the nature of the thing going on in the room.

“He found it amusing and there was another man just out of earshot. He alerted the other fellow to the story and it was a joke. Everyone was laughing,” he said. Mr Sadlier said he resorted to self-protection where, “I said I better laugh along too”.

Mr Sadlier said he told his mother five years later in Marlay Park who was “amazing”. He said he turned to alcohol and after his retirement from football aged 24, he began taking drugs.

He stopped drinking aged 32 following therapy and married his wife Fiona earlier this year. Mr Sadlier said he was speaking about his abuse now as he is in “a pretty good place in my life and I have been for quite a while”.

“I’ve come to terms with a lot of the different experiences I’ve had in my life and the places I’ve been and the things I’ve gone through. I think there’s a usefulness and a value to talking openly about things if you’re at the point where you’re comfortable and ready to do so. I’m very grateful that I’m at that point now,” he said.

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